Ringside with Raymundo: At Garcia-Guerrero
After the 12th round ended in memorable fashion with both Robert Guerrero and Danny Garcia emptying the tank in the final seconds of their WBC welterweight title contest, attention turned to the fighter sitting ringside only a few seats away from mega movie star Eddie Murphy who previously held the title; the former undefeated No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the world, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Although Mayweather was booed vehemently by the 12,052 in attendance every time he was shown on the Staples Center jumbotron, hate then turned to affection towards the best and most notorious fighter of our generation, who slowly made his way towards the VIP exit backstage, stopping for a few photos and autographs as a merciless bodyguard team lead him through the now adoring crowd.
Murphy, star of ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ and the family ‘Klump’ franchise, as well as ‘Half Baked’ front-man Dave Chappelle also weaved through adoring crowds, yet neither had the stage presence of Mayweather, who didn’t throw a single punch and has not fought since September last year, yet Mayweather still garners the most attention seemingly wherever he goes.
It was fascinating to see how quickly the tide turned from vocal displeasure to complete Beatles’ like hysteria. However, the next paragraph will illustrate to the hardcore boxing fan how Mayweather may have just been outshined by someone not known for throwing punches the night that Philadelphia’s Garcia won the WBC title that he vacated via retirement last year.
For seasoned boxing fans eyes only:
It can be said that it is very hard and nearly impossible to upstage Mayweather, but on this night, the retired fighter was upstaged by somebody backstage to a certain degree.
At approximately 4 o’clock on fight night, as this writer and WBC affiliate Joe Serrat were walking to the Chick Hearn Press Room in the confines of the Staples Center, Al Haymon swiftly made his entrance through the VIP entrance flanked by two associates who were attempting to make his swift entrance even swifter. Even though not a soul was around other than Serrat and I, Haymon was ushered to the fighters locker rooms as if there were a throng of people attempting to get to Haymon.
The head of Premier Boxing Champions is a tall sort, this night dressed in all black, with a somewhat affable, yet determined demeanor from what Serrat and I could gather from the 10 seconds it took for Haymon in a ghostlike fashion to appear, then disappear inside the back of the Staples Center.
Haymon is notorious for not speaking to the press, and I’ve heard stories that the most powerful man in boxing is even camera shy; to people who know who he is, his face even remains unknown to many as few pictures have been snapped by gutsy boxing press over the years. This brief sighting was talked about by members of the press throughout the night, with various, yet few stories flipped around press row.
After seeing Haymon enter the Staples Center, only a few minutes later Eddie Murphy made his way for a pit stop in the less bathroom-traffic confines of the Chick Hearn press room, and upon exiting, the ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ star was heard asking one of his associates about Al Haymon. During Haymon’s music/entertainment promoting tenure, the recluse Harvard graduate promoted Murphy’s epic 1987 stand up film ‘Eddie Murphy Raw’.
While Mayweather’s presence commands flashing cameras, iPhone clicking, booing/cheering and overall psychocity, Haymon’s presence is even more powerful, just without all the pizazz. Mayweather is the pound for pound king, while it is Haymon who remains the most enigmatic presence in the fight game.
Following the star studded exits of Floyd Mayweather, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle, the post-fight press conference kicked off in a timely manner as Robert Guerrero took to the dais first to field questions regarding his unanimous decision loss to Danny Garcia that occurred only a few minutes earlier.
Guerrero and his father Ruben both took turns pointing a picture that the Northern California native deserved to have his hand raised, and repeatedly asked the media in attendance, (and the biased pro Guerrero family/supporters in the CHPR made their support known) if we wanted to see a rematch.
Guerrero fielded a question from 3MR regarding the final seconds of the last round
“I finally got Danny to let them go and start exchanging them with me. The whole first half of that round, I don’t know, (asks the crowd) did I win that round? I wont that round?!!! Cause a lot of them I didn’t win but I was putting the pressure and landing shot after shot… but he came out, and he started swinging. After I was on him, he finally just said ‘you know what I gotta’ take a stand and start letting them go, and he did… man, it was a great round. It was a great round.”
It was hard to ignore the fact that Guerrero’s face told a story that his mouth wasn’t telling. Guerrero had been out-landed 87-156 in power connects and 108-163 overall per CompuBox and it showed. The rugged veteran had visible welting underneath both eyes, worse under the left eye, facial scarring alongside the right side of his face down to his neckline and although the proud fighter saw a win or at least a draw in his favor (Mayweather reportedly told Guerrero that he had it a draw or a point ahead in his favor), Guerrero can be proud of the fact that he was never once dropped to the canvas and remained competitive in what is still the hottest weight class in the sport.
Guerrero came in at a 10-1 underdog and gave more than enough of a showing that any other top tier 147 pounder should know dancing with The Ghost is no easy night, even 15 years deep into his title studded career.
Philly’s Garcia took approximately 30-45 minutes to soak in his win, talk amongst his team and clean up a bit, and in this duration fellow 147 pound fighter Keith Thurman hopped on the mic to promote his March tussle against Shawn Porter. Thurman speaks well and was even selected that night to provide commentary for the Fox televised bouts, and Porter was also in attendance that night provides autographs and pictures for all fans who so wished to have a piece of the Ohio native ringside in Los Angeles. Also present at the fights were fighters Victor Ortiz, Andre Berto and Amir Khan (Khan reportedly had a verbal back and forth with Mayweather at the conclusion of Garcia/Guerrero that has made headlines in the days following fight night in LA.)
When the new WBC welterweight champion took the stage, Garcia donned sunglasses (which would probably have better served the tattered face of the sunglass-less Guerrero) and fielded a few questions while seated next to the green belt that will call Philly home until at least June 2016, when the fighter will be mandated to face former opponent Khan.
On the fight, Garcia was polite to Guerrero yet pointed out what he thought was the difference in the fight that led him to victory. “The difference was my athleticism. I believe I was more athletic than him (Guerrero). See, a lot of people don’t know that I am an athletic person. I could play a lot of sports. Basketball. Baseball. Football. I know all the fundamentals in all sports. I was just more of an athlete than him. Able to get away, get my combinations, throw my right hand… He’s a tough fighter, we knew he would come for 12 rounds.”
Garcia that he won clean and would not like to rematch as he would see that as a step back in his career, but left a door open if that’s what Team Garcia (and Team Haymon) want for him later in 2016.
On the possibility of facing WBC mandatory Khan next, Garcia was dismissive of Khan as his next opponent, citing the UK native’s recent inactivity in the ring while holding out to face either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, both of which failed to come to fruition.
With that, Garcia left the Staples Center with the WBC strap, Guerrero left with dignity and perhaps some more gas left in the tank for another 147 pound title run, Thurman and Porter with a date night set for March 12, Ortiz, Khan and Berto with nothing on the horizon, Mayweather with his ability to still electrify a whole room, and Haymon with the ability to pull all the strings inside the Staples Center, as well as the entire sport of boxing.
About Raymundo Dioses
A life-long fan with a former boxer's namesake. Professional boxing writer on the beat since 2007.
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