Don’t know when it officially kicked in, but it appears this new boxing wave is real. Because some initial plans fell through last Saturday, I thought I could roll to the Barclays Center and catch the Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson matchup at the Premier Boxing Champions event, but nahhh. Last seat available was an obstructed view in the back of the back.
Wouldn’t be surprised if that scenario is repeated next weekend, April 25, at Madison Square Garden, as we have a potential real life “Rocky” story, except in this case, the heavyweight champ is white (Vladimir Klitschko) and the spirited challenger from Philadelphia is Black (Bryant Jennings). This flurry of activity leads into possibly the most anticipated—definitely the most lucrative—prizefight in history, going down May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas: Mayweather versus Paquiao.
Crazy how all this falls in line in historical terms. Thirty years ago on April 15, one of the biggest fights of that year was to go down. When the night was concluded, one of the greatest bouts ever had occurred. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns collided for what was originally called “The Fight” and was later dubbed “The War.” Either title was befitting. There was no love lost between the two combatants, and both wanted to be the absolute best. That feeling was the sole fuel of the match, and the world couldn’t wait to see it.
We didn’t have cable in the Bronx, so closed-circuit TV was my only option. I knew there was a live undercard, so I bagged a ticket in the Blue section of the Garden, way in advance to assure entry. Wise investment. That was my first time being in a place with that much electric energy. Boos and hisses were loudly directed at the fighters by the opposing fans, as if the fighters could hear them 3,000 miles away. As loud as it was, maybe they could.
Come to think of it, though, those fighters on that night probably didn’t even hear the filled-to-capacity audience that had gathered at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Straight tunnel vision as they locked onto each other. The consensus among the fans was whoever landed the first big punch would have his hands raised in victory.
We got that theory dismissed early in Round 1. Hearns lands a big right and Hagler is frozen for a second. Hearns’ fans go, “Oohhhhh …We got him” It was with good reason they’d believe that. The best description of his dream-inducing, one-punch, right-cross, knockout power and lethal combinations would come later in a chorus from DMX, who would chant years later, “Stop, drop. Shut ‘em down, open up shop.” That was the formula if Hearns hurt you. If you weren’t put to sleep with the big right hand, there was no way you could survive the thunder of the forthcoming volley.
Hagler not only survived but also flourished. He had to. He was victimized by the political aspects of boxing before and the fate of his blood, sweat and fears were going to be taken into his own hands, literally.
In Round 3, with the referee threatening to stop the fight in Hearns’ favor after a severe cut appeared on Hagler’s face, Marvelous Marvin channeled his fears through his two right crosses to the chin of Hearns. Clearly defeated, the proud Hearns wouldn’t allow Hagler to say that he was down for the count. He stumbled to his feet before the 10 count.
Those brutal and violent 8 minutes provided a beautiful insight into the human spirit and inadvertently provided a life lesson. At some point, adversity has to be faced and fought. Let’s hope the event taking place May 2 provides a similar lesson.
Over and out. Holla next week. Until then, enjoy the nightlife.