Definition of an·ti·sep·tic:
a: coldly impersonal
b: of, relating to, or being warfare conducted with cold precision from a safe distance with few or no casualties on one’s side
That is exactly what the local boxing scene is not. Its participants don’t come with guaranteed contracts. They don’t perform in arenas with big screens, canned music and programmed chants to keep its fans awake. Talk about an incentive driven profession. Boxers must perform on each occasion or risk injury, not just defeat.
Tired of spoiled athletes who don’t seem to care? Local boxing is a sport where a boxer who was knocked out in one of the early matches, comes back out to be with family and friends and sit among all the other fans. Talk about having nowhere to hide. I walked past that boxer on my way out of the arena on a recent Friday night. He looked like someone who had lost much that evening, perhaps even the hopes of remaining a professional boxer. I got home, turned on ESPN and heard — actually was bombarded by the 4-letter network — about Stephon Marbury’s latest dogging-it incident. I wish the boxer and Marbury could have traded places that evening.
A few weeks ago I got to sit in on a local boxing press conference and attend the Friday night [12/05] boxing matches at the Miccosukee Resort and Gaming. Perhaps it was attributable to a Don King hangover I was subconsciously suffering from, but I was very surprised by the professional and collegial environment I experienced.
First the press conference. Aside from a majority of the 12 boxers on the card–some with their trainers and friends–there were about 10 members of the local media who attended, highlighted by:
- Channel 51’s sportscaster René Giraldo
- The Miami Herald’s boxing writer, Santos Perez
- Sports talk show hosts, Jerry del Castillo and Jose [El Chamby] Campos–from La Descarga Deportiva, 670 on the AM dial
The promoter of the boxing card was Tuto Zabala Jr. Promoting boxing matches is the family business for the Zabala’s. His father, Tuto Zabala Sr. is a well known and respected name in Miami and Puerto Rico boxing circles and his teenage son was an active participant in many tasks on fight night. For the purposes of this boxing card, Zabala is in effect, in a joint venture with Boxeo Telemundo — they commit to carry one hour of boxing on a monthly basis on Friday nights — beginning at 11:30 pm to carry the main bouts live.
A number of the boxers spoke in a professional and appreciative manner. Most promising victory, but not with arrogance, but rather in a matter of fact tone which seemed to be as much a reflection of what they thought their roles required as their self-confidence.
My first big surprise. The favored fighter in the main bout was an 18 year-old red-headed Mexican kid, Saul Alvarez–a writer once referred to him as ‘an angry and ripped *Opie Cunningham’ in the ring. If I had dropped off Saul with my teenage kids at Sunset Place Mall, he would have fit right in–he was that soft-spoken and unintimidating outside the ring. Even a novice like myself was already speculating, ‘if this kid is any good, this won’t be his last televised fight.’
Finally, mixing comfortably with the promoter, assorted trainers and the boxers, the media contingent was clearly among colleagues who enjoyed the environment and each others company. Once the cameras had departed, a small but vociferous sub-group proceeded to discuss Zabala’s Miccosukee boxing card, the Pacquiao vs De La Hoya match, UM Hurricane recruiting efforts, Tim Tebow, Butch Davis, Nick Satan and engage in rampant speculation as to the items potentially listed on Guy Richtie’s divorce filing. Cursing my lack of foresight, which included afternoon appointments, I regretfully left the group, even as the staff of La Casita Restaurant, which hosted the press conference, was cordoning off the discussion area so as not to frighten the non-boxing related diners.
I know nobody’s asked, but a future post will be about the night of the actual boxing matches.
*- While a common misconception among normal persons–those humans not obsessed with trivia–there was no Opie Cunningham. The writer, Clif Rold, probably couldn’t make up his mind between Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham and chose to go with a blend.
The Miami Herald article by Santos Perez about the press conference is copied in full at end of post.
Alvarez takes on Pinzon, with dreams of a world title
Posted on Fri, Dec. 05, 2008
BY SANTOS A. PEREZ
Saul Alvarez targets only the immediate future of his professional boxing career, but this Mexican native can’t help but imagine how his body’s development could lead to higher weight categories.
Alvarez, 18, is considered one of Mexico’s rising stars, but fight fans won’t find him in the flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight or lightweight classes, where many of his fellow Mexican fighters excel.
Alvarez has fought most of his 23 bouts as a welterweight — a division in which he won a regional title this year. Considering his age, Alvarez could end up fighting and excelling as a middleweight or super middleweight.
Before any possible venture into higher weight classes, Alvarez will make the first defense of his regional title against Colombia’s Raul Pinzon in the main event of Friday night’s card at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming.
”We still need to do more work in this weight division before we think of moving up,” Alvarez said in Spanish after a news conference Wednesday at La Casita Restaurant in west Miami-Dade County.
“Later, we’ll see how my body develops because I’m only 18, but right now, and God willing, the goal is to win a world welterweight title.”
Alvarez is 22-0-1 with 15 knockouts since turning professional in July 2005. A victory over Pinzon would retain Alvarez’s regional belt, and it also could provide an additional boost in welterweight recognition.
”I am very satisfied how my career has progressed so far, but there is still plenty of experience to learn and strength to gain,” Alvarez said. “There is no rush in getting a world title opportunity.”
Yet, Alvarez acknowledges title dreams and hopes to exceed beyond a recognized belt-holder by one of the sanctioning bodies.
”Not only do I want to become a world champion, but I want to be a boxing idol,” Alvarez said. “I want to give all I can in the ring so the fans can leave the arena satisfied with my performances.”
But Pinzon (16-1, 15 KOs) said he will leave Miccosukee on Friday night with Alvarez’s regional title.
”I caution him: This will not be an easy fight,” Pinzon said in Spanish. “I am very confident this title will return to Colombia.”
Friday’s show has local fighters in undercard bouts.
Homestead’s Orlando Gonzalez will face St. Louis’ Leon Bobo in a scheduled six-round junior-lightweight match, and Miami’s Sergio Garcia will fight Vero Beach’s Chris Gray in a four-round junior-middleweight bout.