Friday Night Boxing

Since today is *Boxing Day … I wanted to follow up on an earlier post which described my introduction to the local boxing scene. This post is about the actual night of the fights, Friday, December 5th at Miccosukee.

I was there at 8pm sharp, the scheduled start time and I was way too early. There were few people there and the 1st bout wouldn’t start until about 8:30. But it was a good opportunity for a novice like me to soak it all in. First impressions. The ring seemed huge. Early crowd seemed clearly to be family and friends, huddled in specific areas. I watched the local media settle into their favorite ringside spots. There were a handful of very attractive women, which I assumed were not the typical aficionados. At which point I invoked the ‘no staring at women with potentially dangerous dates rule.’ [Among accountants, that rule is adhered to with as much discipline as no fly zones in Baghdad]. The promoter, Tuto Zabala Jr., was there, relaxed and working the room. I also started to recognize some of the faces from the press conference that Wednesday.

You quickly realize that not unlike movie productions, in which people with diverse talents come together to produce a unique product, a night of boxing requires a similar convergence of talent:

  • Ring Announcer
  • Three scoring judges
  • Timekeeper – I prefer the 10 second warning system at Miccosukee – a heavy mallet slammed on piece of wood
  • 2 Referees
  • Trainers / Cornermen / Cutmen – few of the early card boxers have their own trainers
  • Ringside Doctor
  • Local Media / Telemundo production crew and on-air talent
  • 3 Round Card Models – of course there’s a website
  • 14 Boxers

Once they all are in place, the boxing show has come to town. The crowd slowly continues to arrive throughout the night. Put yourself in the shoes of the promoter. You have all those people and equipment in place. Your network partners, Telemundo, are hoping for a good show after a rival network [Telefutura] announced they were ending their boxing sponsorship for 2009. Of your total of seven boxing matches, the first four are scheduled as four-rounders.

Murphy’s Law seems to kick in. Three of those end in the first round and the other ends in the 2nd round. In between the three minute boxing rounds and minute of rest in between rounds, that’s only about 25% of the possible action you bargained for.

It’s unfortunate for many reasons. Fans get restless. Round card models don’t need to get up or take off their robes when bouts end in the 1st round. Knockouts mean someone could be seriously hurt. In the 3rd fight of the evening, a boxer was knocked out and his head hit the floor hard–usually the biggest concern in knockout scenarios. There was a palpable concern among all the insiders until the word had spread that he was doing fine in the dressing room.

But it’s not Murphy’s Law, it’s why boxing is, at least at the local level, such an unpredictable sport.  There were no guarantees on this evening. The 5th bout went the scheduled six rounds. Here is a recap by the Miami Herald’s boxing writer Santos Perez:

[Leon] Bobo traveled from his native St. Louis and earned a split-decision victory over Homestead resident Orlando Gonzalez in an undercard bout of a show at Miccosukee.

Gonzalez had a lot of fans there that evening. It would have made economic sense to have Gonzalez emerge with a split decision. By making the unpopular but correct decision, the integrity of the sport was also a winner. ‘No guarantees’ was reinforced.

The Main Event – Regional Welterweight Title

The Miami Herald’s Santos Perez description of the fight:

Mexico’s Saul Alvarez overwhelmed Raul Pinzon with a first-round technical knockout victory in the main event of Friday night’s show at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming.

Alvarez (23-0-1, 16 KOs) dropped Pinzon with a right to the head midway through the round. Pinzon reached his feet at the count of eight but on shaky legs.

Sensing a battered Pinzon, Alvarez followed with a flurry of combinations to the head, sending Pinzon (16-2) to the canvas again. Referee Pat Russell didn’t bother to count the second knockdown and stopped the fight at 2:30 of the round.

With the victory, Alvarez retained his regional welterweight title.

Did you know that professional boxing has an excellent worldwide online database of all boxers? Anyone can go to the Boxing Records website [there are other databases which perform a similar role in much greater detail, but they charge a fee] and search for a boxer’s name. You will get a lot of information. You will see that Saul Alvarez has a Global ID #[348759]. You will see that he was born in 1990, that he has fought mostly in Mexico and mostly novices in his first dozen professional fights. Further, the competition in Mexico is considered to be at a very high level and Alvarez has clearly had a steady progression in terms of the quality of his opponents. You will see that his record is now 23-0 including the victory over Pinzon.

But in terms of the sport of boxing, I’m more interested in his opponent, Raul Pinzon. If you search him [or just click on him from the Alvarez profile], you will find that he too has a Global ID #[319416]. You will see a lot of red [defeats] in the chart of his recent opponents and mostly fights in his native Colombia, which is much less competitive than Mexico. Informed observers or those with the time or interest to delve into the records, could have been suspicious of his ability to compete with Alvarez. Then again, might he have been the exception? Which is partly why they fought. But one thing is clear. If a sport was more concerned about hype than establishing credibility, accurate information about fighters like Pinzon would be much harder to obtain.

Transparency

That tells me a lot of good things about the sport of boxing. While I wasn’t paying attention, the old sport of boxing responded the way any modern business would when confronted with the problem of a customer base suspicious of the sport’s integrity. Boxing turned to the web to disseminate information in a manner which does not lend itself to manipulation. Boxing is moving towards a level of transparency which could not have been imagined in those grainy black and white film clips from it’s past or from it’s MMA competitors.

Speaking of outdated images. Among my impressions of boxing’s past are rough and tumble crowds which heap abuse on the losing fighters–all in good fun of course, as long as you are not the fighter. I was seated ringside and there were a number of 1st round knockouts and yet I heard nothing like that. There was a buzz and noise etc., but I could hear no one calling out insults. Here’s what I did see; A Miccosukee security guard stationed ringside made it a point to look each of the vanquished boxers in the eye and thank them for their efforts on their way out of the ring. Both the guard and the evening of boxing surprised me with a level of class and professionalism that I wasn’t expecting for whatever reason.

Boxing’s Future

The prominent HBO boxing analyst, Larry Merchant, gave an interview last year where he concluded that:

… Boxing is no longer a mainstream sport. It has been in decline for some time and it is what I would call a niche sport with a solid, loyal following that allows around 200 boxing cards to be televised a year.

It is no longer a big deal in the American scheme of things, unless someone breaks into the mainstream and is a celebrity fighter. There are some people doing very well financially, because the television generated revenue at the top of the food change is considerable.

American boxing has problems. Like other sports, primarily hockey, basketball, tennis and golf, it has been globalized. America no longer exclusively dominates these sports. There is globalization and America does not dominate all the divisions in boxing, particularly the heavyweight division.

Buried in those overall pessimistic comments about boxing’s future, is the fact that Miami is very well positioned to play a significant role in that future. What’s the problem with boxing being a niche sport, if the demographics of the ‘solid, loyal following’ are our demographics?

All Miami Herald articles by Santos Perez referenced are copied in full at end of post.

*- yeah yeah, I know–not that type of boxing

————————————————————————————–
Bobo beats Homestead’s Gonzalez

Posted on Sat, Dec. 06, 2008

BY SANTOS A. PEREZ

Leon Bobo fulfilled the spoiler role against the hometown favorite Friday night.

Bobo traveled from his native St. Louis and earned a split-decision victory over Homestead resident Orlando Gonzalez in an undercard bout of a show at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming.

Using his height and reach advantage and benefiting from his southpaw stance, Bobo moved effectively and avoided a charging Gonzalez during their six-round lightweight match.

Judges Peter Trematera and John Ruppert scored the bout 58-56 for Bobo, and Michael Pernick had Gonzalez winning 58-56. There were no knockdowns.

”Usually when you come into someone’s back yard and finish a close fight like this, at best you leave with a draw,” Bobo said. “It was a close fight, but I thought I won.”

With dozens of cheering family and friends on hand, Gonzalez tried to keep the fight at short, and he scored with rights to the head.

But Bobo avoided extensive short-range attacks, repeatedly moved in angles and connected with lefts to the head.

In the third round, Bobo (18-2-2) kept the fight at punching range, pressing Gonzalez to the ropes and landing lefts to the head and combinations to the body.

Bobo (12-2-1) scored again with body shots in the fifth, but Gonzalez was effective with short rights to the head.

However, Gonzalez could not maintain aggression in the final round as Bobo backpedaled and avoided any possible fight-altering flurry.

”Until about a week ago, I wasn’t sure if this fight was going to be made,” Bobo said. “But I was prepared no matter what.

“It feels great to come into his hometown and get the win.”

In the main event, Mexico’s Saul Alvarez overwhelmed Raul Pinzon with a first-round technical knockout.

Alvarez (23-0-1, 16 KOs) dropped Pinzon with a right to the head midway through the round. Pinzon reached his feet at the count of eight, but on shaky legs.

Sensing a battered Pinzon, Alvarez followed with additional flurry of combinations to the head, sending Pinzon (16-2) to the canvas again. Referee Pat Russell didn’t bother to count the second knockdown and stopped the fight at 2:30 of the round.

With the victory, Alvarez retained his regional welterweight title.

• In other bouts: Junior middleweight Chris Gray won by unanimous decision over Sergio Garcia; super middleweight Jonathan Cepeda won by technical knockout over Omar Cofi at 33 seconds of the third round; light heavyweight Robert Campbell knocked out Luis Rueda at 3:00 of the first round; lightweight Genier Pit won by technical knockout over Jesus Garcia at 2:33 of the first round; and junior welterweight Derrick Moon won by technical knockout over Amaury Torres at 2:58 of the second round.
—————————————————————————————
Alvarez stops Pinzon by TKO

Posted on Sun, Dec. 07, 2008

Mexico’s Saul Alvarez overwhelmed Raul Pinzon with a first-round technical knockout victory in the main event of Friday night’s show at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming.

Alvarez (23-0-1, 16 KOs) dropped Pinzon with a right to the head midway through the round. Pinzon reached his feet at the count of eight but on shaky legs.

Sensing a battered Pinzon, Alvarez followed with a flurry of combinations to the head, sending Pinzon (16-2) to the canvas again. Referee Pat Russell didn’t bother to count the second knockdown and stopped the fight at 2:30 of the round.

With the victory, Alvarez retained his regional welterweight title.

— SANTOS A.PEREZ
—————————————————————————–

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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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