Wednesday, September 23, 2009

After the After

As much as I found the experience of watching the Mayweather/Marquez fight on Saturday affecting, the only real drama was the post-fight interview. I’ve never understood why the interview in boxing is allowed to be much more confrontational than in any other sport - with notable curmudgeons Jim Gray and Larry Merchant being the preeminent practitioners – but it’s a generally accepted rule that things are allowed to get quite a bit saltier than just about anything else on television.

Still, I couldn’t help being a little sympathetic to Floyd Mayweather Jr. as he tried to accept his bow as the returning hero. I enjoyed the limited mayhem, but couldn’t help wondering what the reaction would have been if it had been Floyd who had pulled a Kanye on Mosley, instead of the way it went down. It’s one thing to agitate in the press-conference afterwards, it’s quite another to take a man’s hard earned shine after two years out of the spotlight.

I know Floyd is supposed to be the natural baddie, while Mosley is noble and righteous, but if the roles were reversed there would be such an overload of vitriol and message-board indignation sent Floyd’s way that the psychic rage would peel flesh from faces. No, I am not weeping for Floyd, it is what it is, but don’t anyone tell me that he is crazy when he talks about a double standard. Floyd has his faults, but he would not have done that to Mosley, and if he had you can be assured he would have taken his lashes.

Mosley has built up a reservoir of good will over the years by being a humble and decent man, but he and Bernard overstepped the moment no matter how much we may like them.

As for Kellerman’s performance, I’m a little hesitant to go after him too hard as I’m generally a fan. He seems to at least love the sport, something some of the other HBO boys don’t always make clear. However, as the instigator of the event he should have let the thing unfold to the natural conclusion. We are boxing fans, a little crazy is what we love about the sport.

I’ll say it gentle, but Max shrunk a bit, looking like a little boy who, late at night, wandered into the neighborhood his mother warned him about. If you know what I mean. That’s alright, I would have been nervous too, sandwiched between a hard crew of roughly twenty title belts between them. What I wished Kellerman would have realized, and Floyd rightly pointed out, is he talks too much and nobody really cares what he has to say. I know he worked all night on his intricate questions, but Floyd isn’t going to say what you want him to, so let the action unfold. Give the man his minute of commercials and self-love, he earned it.

It’s not Kellerman’s fault, particularly, I think the HBO guys often takes themselves a little too seriously. The fights the thing, and whether the gloves are still on or it’s the aftermath, nobody, ultimately, cares about the referees.

* Check out the latest piece I wrote for the Rumble about watching Floyd fight, I think it's good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Boys and the Band

I have some rather exciting news. Nomas is folding into another site with the sporting news called the rumble and it seems I am going to come along with them. I’m not entirely sure yet what the ramifications of this might be, but I think it means I’m probably going to be posting more frequent and slightly shorter pieces over there. It seems nomas will largely be a feeder site for the rumble. As for Boxiana we’re going to have to see. My hope is to do something of what Bethlehem Shoals has done over at Freedarko, where he keeps the longer, more challenging – and to my mind more interesting stuff – on Freedarko and the straighter stuff on the baseline.

Of course, there is only one Shoals, the high prince of sports blogging and a walking difference engine. I, on the other hand, am but flesh and not particularly toothsome flesh at that. I have tried to keep my promises at a minimum so as to focus the disappointment firmly within myself. As Leonard Cohen wrote in one of my favorite poems:

Out of the thousands

who are known,

or who want to be known

as poets,

maybe one or two

are genuine

and the rest are fakes,

hanging around the sacred


trying to look like the real thing.

Needless to say

I am one of the fakes,

and this is my story

The Rumble should be pretty fun. Large from nomas has put together a beautifully designed site and gotten quite a few talented writers to sign on. It’s a dual boxing/MMA site, which, to be perfectly honest, I’m not overly thrilled with. But, who knows, perhaps we can convert some of the fans of strenuous rubbing into followers of the science of bruising. (Joking, mostly.)

I haven’t been asked to temper my style, and I doubt I will really be able to even if asked. The first piece is already up today, a recap and meditation of Urango/Bailey and the romance of the body shot. There should be another one on Hatton up later today as well. I guess I’ll put a link up in the corner and also specifically point to particularly good pieces for the next few weeks at least. Still, it should be worth checking out daily as there will be a lot of news pieces and some fine writing. For Boxiana I hope to keep producing more edgy and overtly racial or otherwise longer pieces, but again, I'm not one for guarantees.

It should be exciting with a lot of new readers, whether my type of stuff is what they prefer; I guess we’ll see.

Rumble, young man. Rumble!

* * * *

Also wanted to add some quick thoughts on the debut of Mayweather/Marquez 24/7, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s great to have Floyd back on the program, the only truly interesting and engaging personality they have yet found. Roger and Floyd Sr, of course, are much welcomed as well.

My first thought on seeing the program was just how much Floyd’s upper body has grown. Having just rewatched Mayweather/Corrales the difference is striking. And, though I have not recently checked, it seemed to me he was notably larger than even the Hatton and De La Hoya fights. On one level this is obviously good, he will no longer be so clearly outsized against the real welters, Cotto/Mosley and the rest, when he eventually (hopefully) fights them, but I had been hoping that he might get back the more fluid combination punching style he displayed so beautifully in the lower weight classes. I thought perhaps his more cautious, pecking style owed more to dangers of larger opposition and an inherently cautious nature than any physical change.

But with this newly muscled body, impressive as it might be, I have doubts whether he is capable of throwing those multiple short and quick right hands that were so lovely to see. I don’t think it necessarily limits his effectiveness, but the grace and subtlety may have dissipated a little.

I know a lot of people were also skeptical of the slightly more mature and PG Floyd, thinking it a ploy to get back in the good graces of an irate public. I’m somewhat sympathetic to that viewpoint. It’s hard for a normal person to imagine just how much psychic toll it takes to be in the public eye, and even moreso when the larger part of that eye is squinting and narrowed with animus. It is a human impulse to try to correct that, it just take too much energy to be forever kicking against the pricks. Richard III might have said, “And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover. To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain.” But Floyd, though he has played the part exceptionally well, like most all of us sinners, sees himself as the hero of his own story and on some level must be trying to self-correct.

While that surely is a part, it is an ungenerous heart that leaves it at that. I reserve my true skepticism for politicians and the police. I think the larger piece is the natural progression of a man’s life. Floyd is 32 now, with a growing daughter, and very few are able to keep up the level of narcissism he so long maintained. I hope he keeps his sharper and more biting ring persona and racial edges, but outside the ring finds greater rewards. It’s an unhealthy heart that wishes demons on others.

As for Marquez, it was enjoyable to see the man in peacetime, but not particularly illuminating or otherwise engaging. It simply confirmed what I’ve long thought. Juan Manual Marquez intends to win this fight. He’s as earnest and serious a prizefighter as now exists, and he doesn’t particularly care if we don’t give him a chance, he’ll take a bone from a hungry dog and beat him over the head with it if that is what it takes. Marquez looked a bit more muscular, but what little work we saw him engaged in seemed sharp and focused. He’s a stone sniper, from a culture full of them, and he’s never going to stand down unless compelled to by force.

I had been a little fretful over the match up, not because I saw it as unworthy, but because I want the heat of a true superfight. I want something that will make people stand at attention, and this fight didn’t seem to be it. I think much of it stems from the overarching dislike of Mayweather, a perfemptory defense of giving him credit in the event of a win. He is the clear favorite, but I think he’s the clear favorite against them all.

It may not be the fight they all want to see, but it’s a fight I want to see, and the 24/7 reminded me of that. People always claim that boxing is dead, and I say that’s fine, as long as you don’t tell the modern greats not to show up in the ring I’m more than happy to let people claim as much.

They say this is not a superfight, and that’s fine too, because it is for me, and I can’t wait for the bell to ring.