A tale of four boxers

CARSON, California—Every fight promotion takes on its character and  you discover that there is more to the “who did what to whom.” What makes the fight world so intriguing is that lives involved are not usually as brimming with possibilities. From the few routine contenders that attain their moments, most fall short, in time becomes the designated obstacle to the next wave of contenders, absorbing the blows of men superior to them.

The hierarchy of boxing, on whatever level a fighter exists with boxing adjuncts—men who make their living from the fights without ever having to throw a punch.

Donnie “Ahas” Nieves, Albert Pagara, Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo and Jason “El Niño” Pagara have added pleasure to boxing with their backgrounds. They filled their dreams with the crazy roulette that fighting offers. They came with their trainers, managers, promoters, booking agents, who in spite of their cunnery and resourcefulness attended in the interest of their Filipino protégées. Each had different skills and techniques, each had a strategy of his own craft that the appeal and fascination of their bouts got beyond each expertise.

Donnie Nietes, the coiled venom nicknamed “Ahas,”  flicked out jabs, dished out stinging body shots, with hands pummeling and landing wherever he wants them to be—against the rope, pulling together combinations,  circling and throwing out a greater variety of punches as flag-waving Filipinos roared into the ring—as the opponent stepped up the ring and ducked between the ropes. He shuffled and the other put his hands up.

One threw out a jab that tapped a forehead, his opponent swung back at him and missed as he moved left and right. There was a jab so high and followed by a hit below the gut below. There was dancing around the ring and one smile. He was hot again with a chuckle. He ran at him to throw a fist, but got cracked in the mouth instead. He retaliated, threw a punch and missed. He could have knocked his opponent out, but he probably wasn’t worthy of that.

For the other boxers, each had his own moment in the ring. The beating came, one was pathetic. Once they’ve had their fun and made their point, they simply ran around without a word and walked into  their corner. That was what I saw in one hour and forty seven minutes they’ve played their game. Then you ask yourself, how much of these had their coaches mark? The man who makes you more skilled, show you how to be better at a certain activity. How does one throw a jab, the rope crossing, dancing, ticking, gliding working sharp and powerful, how to make that rope fly furious and how to enclose the fighter in a clear cloud of movement.

Boxing is a brutal and abominable game. It excites you more each minute, as you get caught up in it, taking part urging the fighters on. It lasts only a few minutes, and afterwards, you’re ashamed that you let go!

The collective photos of my colleagues will enchant this colorless, odorless story.

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