The day started off well, with not too much of that infamous California traffic once I hit downtown Los Angeles as the 10 freeway becomes the 101. There are often sights of graffiti and murals on the freeway walls of the City of Angels, and more recently, there is an artists rendering of a boxing themed Mickey Rourke, clad with wrapped hands and a wry smile. Itâ€™s pretty cool to see while youâ€™re sitting in a little traffic on the way to a boxing match. Even cooler to see on your way to a boxing match where, once again, the squared circle became ripe with controversy and some suspected that there was acting going on between the ropes during the main event.
Of course, there was the obligatory â€˜lostâ€™ moment; I swear, if I had a nickel for every wrong turn, I could buy myself into the horrendous WBC rankings. (More on them later). I got to the Staples Center in decent time, and I found a $5 parking lot. ***Tip for Staples Center fights: do NOT pay $25 to park in the front of the venue; instead, drive down a few blocks and pay $5, and sometimes, even cheaper.*** Come on people, America is getting fatter by the second! A little walking isnâ€™t going to hurt.
I walked a few blocks to Staples, and breezed by the Oscar De La Hoya statue in the front. I noticed that there were more than a few people taking pictures in front of the bronze statue, posing with the giddiness of children and snapping as many photos as they can before the next wave of people jump in front of the statue that is slowly gaining the popularity of the Rocky statue in Hopkinâ€™s Philly. (I know that is a bold statement, especially being that the DLH statue is only two years old, but every time I go to Staples, there are people surrounding the frozen, Jersey Shore bronzed version of the Golden Boy.) I then passed by the bronze version of Chick Hearn just a few steps away, and ironically, Hearn is immortalized sitting at a table commentating with an empty chair next to him. No one was taking pictures with the â€˜Hearninatorâ€™. Come on people, the jello is jiggling, the milk is going badâ€¦
Once inside, I did what I normally try to do whenever I step into a boxing event at a large venue. I enjoy walking around a bit, listening to my Steve Jobs equipment, (we all have emâ€™ right? RIP) soaking in the atmosphere and looking around to get the fell and vibe of a fight crowd. This nights attendance was announced at over 8,000, which was surprising given the lowered expectations that almost everyone had being that it was a match between Connecticut (Dawson) and Philadelphia (Hopkins). Itâ€™s just proof positive that if you have two people punching each other in the face in the Los Angeles area, the boxing fans will come.
And oh yeah, make sure to have at least a few Mexican, even Latin based fighters on the card.
Walking through the masses of people paying $10 a pop for cerveza I came across two interesting items: one was located where the nightâ€™s shirts, posters and hats are sold. ***Another tip for the boxing fan: just wait a few months, or a year if it takes, as all this memorabilia is probably dirt cheap online or somewhere else.*** Donâ€™t believe me? Well, yours truly was with the girlfriend while in a thrift store a while back and came across a De La Hoya/Forbes fight shirt. You know how much I laid down for that bad boy? Fifty freaking cents.
The horrendous sight just under the Hopkins/Dawson fight shirts for the normal price $25 were â€˜diamond cladâ€™ WBC logo shirts.
Want to know the price tag for that bad boy?
I guess now even fans are being charged sanctioning fees.
The second interesting sight I came across was the Ripleyâ€™s wax image of Bernard Hopkins, which was openly on display for fans to pose next to and take pictures of. I snapped a picture with my Jobâ€™s phone, and tripped out on it. I snapped a picture after waiting a few minutes for some drunk guy to move who was posing next to it, while his drunker friend forgot who to use his Jobâ€™s phone; so I just took one of the waxed Hopkins and a drunk guy standing next to it.
Once inside the Chick Hearn Press Room, I said whatâ€™s up to a few boxing scribes and made a B-line to the free grub. I said hello to the Staples worker who was manning the plates, and struck up a little conversation, and mentioned the current NBA lockout. â€˜What are you guys going to do? You guys still have hockey, right?â€™ I asked. The worker grimly shrugged his shoulders, and said theyâ€™ve also got a few concerts here and there. Freaking NBA players, probably not even thinking about the 1,000â€™s of jobs they create not only in the Staples Center, but across the nation.
One of the best things to do at a fight is sit and chat it up with other people who drive thousands of miles and even fly to boxing matches year round, grinding out tens of thousands of words a year, juggling family relationships/full time jobs and such to pen down the happenings between two men who are bold enough to tie on some Everlastâ€™s and fight for their living while covering the sport that we so love so much that its just about a borderline addiction. We sat around and tossed out ideas and such, and other stuff that none of us would write down or make public.
Itâ€™s kind of like weâ€™re Goodfellaâ€™s, with no outsiders.
I will tell this though: all of us had unanimously approved that Pat Russell had the go ahead to referee the nightâ€™s main event. Russell enjoys a fine reputation in the boxing community as a solid referee.
Unbeknownst to us all was that in just a few hours, Russell would enter himself into what should be labeled in a few years as a club of â€˜Referees of 2011â€™ who entered themselves into the outcomes of some controversial fight outcomes this year. Please, please, let us not see any other referees join this elusive club. Thereâ€™s a mere two months left in the year tilâ€™ the calendar changes to 2012 and we are voting in Obama for a second termâ€¦
We watched the Dewey Bozella fight on the television screens in the media room and enjoyed the commentary that came along with it from one of the nightâ€™s promoters, Gary Shaw. Shaw was mockingly shouting, â€˜Down goes Dewey!â€™ We all would agree that Bozella looked greener than California chronic, but hey, we were on the Dewey bandwagon nonetheless due to his inspiring story. During the fight, one writer threw out a proposal to Shaw.
â€œHey Gary, how about Dewey vs. Kimbo?â€
Shaw has MMA/UFC fighter turned boxer Kimbo Slice under contract, who is thus far 2-0 in his boxing career. Slice was waxed out of his previous sport, and his reception into the boxing community has been ice cold thus far. Proof positive: Have you read one single piece from a known boxing scribe about Slice yet? I didnâ€™t think so.
Shaw replies, â€œThat fight would last thirty seconds.â€
Another writer snickered and quipped in a low voice away from Shawâ€™s ear thatâ€™s that same amount of time Sliceâ€™s boxing career will be.
Shawâ€™s got to face the facts: boxing people are Team Bozella, and not Team Slice.
Since those of us sitting in the Hearn press room (wow, look at that last name, kind of boxing related, right?) were not sitting in our seats on press row, we did not witness how the crowd at the Staples Center got behind Bozella, cheering loudly and stood and gave a standing ovation once the final bell was rung. That atmosphere is one not to be missed; however, we had Shaw, and each otherâ€™s company, and the writer next to me stated, â€˜we should be out there. But being in here is classic!â€™
It sure is.
Sitting in the media room, I took a look around and along with pictures from basketball games and concerts were two pictures that shined on the sport that was taking place that night. On the wall collage are pictures of De La Hoya on the day he was bronzed and set outside for all eternity and a shot of Shane Mosley beating the almost-plastered Antonio Margarito in their fight here in 2009.
The Staples Center has held fights in their venue since its creation; just not as often as us boxing heads would like them to. Understood, itâ€™s a big stadium, so theyâ€™ve got to hold the biggest names and paper the crowd up a bit for boxing. Thank goodness GBP started hosting monthly shows at the Club Nokia across the way.
After my second delicious helping of Ceaser salad topped with those squared sliced ham and turkey bits and side of Popeye style spinach, I had a second round of Diet Coke, (hopefully this wins bonus points with the GF) and made my way into a fight card that would end up with a result in the nightâ€™s main event personifying its very title:
Believe it or Not.
CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK FOR PART IIâ€¦
Want some teasers? Ok, here goes: A.C. Slater, How to Make it in America, chants of â€˜Bullshitâ€™, a great chat with Robert â€œThe Ghostâ€ Guerrero, boo hooâ€™ing from Richard Schaefer of GBP, the â€˜Promoters Cupâ€™, a Winky Wright sighting and the look of a true warrior on the face of Antonio De Marco, as well as a â€˜Braveheartâ€™ style face on his opponentâ€¦