In a square jungle that is the boxing arena, good stories are good stories, regardless of who tells them. Whatever your story conveys, you know what it feels to have been there.
Palms wet and throats dry, we cobble juicy pieces of fistic delights, with foibles and fallibility.
We have vivid, immediate and firsthand experiences and on-the-spot eyewitness accounts. Yet, our pieces are written quickly, subjectively and are at times, slightly incomplete, as they were scribbled in the heat of the moment and reflect the rush and compression of swirling chaos inside the arena — sometimes even with ignorance, not knowing what is going to happen next.
It is always a roaring and dramatic session when the undisputed darling of the boxing world is the star of the show.
What is the difference between watching the Pacquiao-Bradley 2 fight on pay-per-view, instead of live?
The exhilaration for one — a crowd of 15,601 brought to its feet, roaring and ranking. You stood where only a few others stood, you saw sights that only a few have seen.
You had the pleasure of watching the drama and sharing in the victory.
You experienced the strong tension brought about by a raw nerve.
What else did you miss?
The colorful crowd, the gladiatorial violence which boxing fans have mastered in brutal perfection.
Then there’s the unstoppable and collective roar for every victorious gesture of the champ — from a slow-whistling moan then boom! Relentless, obsessive and sweeping away any other sound.
“I thought I was in the Philippines,” Manny Pacquiao commented during the post-fight press conference. He thanked everyone.
You also missed the overall cultural aridity; the melting in flamboyance, extravaganza and vigor; the irreverence condoned all over the MGM Grand Arena; the sight of every show, vibrantly decadent and inflaming tourists beyond art, dance and spectacle.
Everything about Las Vegas is preposterous: the smells, the hustle inside the MGM Grand. The weigh-in gives you a heady feeling of being on stage– or the feeling of being in the middle of a prison riot.
The dancers, singers, casino people — Las Vegas is the most fun (albeit also the most sinful) place on earth since Sodom and Gomorrah.
In skyliner hyperreality, there’s a mélange: the Statue of Liberty, a giant lion sprawled like an aging nymphomaniac, a pyramid and a sphinx.
They are all there, in a fiery weather of dreams: glittering New York, the grandeur of Rome, the lure of Paris.
What was a shared experience between those who saw the fight in pay-per-view (PPV) and those who were at the scene?
Both saw an overabundance of Filipinos, cheering for the champ. Both were overwhelmed by the number of international celebrities and the bounce of the Tecate models.
Perhaps, PPV viewers felt the same way we did, when the Congressman Boxer sailed into the jungle square to the tune of Katy Perry’s Roar, then broke into a smile that spoke of things withheld and guarded.
PPV viewers probably saw celebrity occupants ringside better than we did, and the expression of public officials, as they strutted around like peacocks.
You may also have shared my affectionate amusement at seeing Mommy Dionesia (the champ’s mother), as she stole the scene.
The post-fight presscon
The small sense of power that a press card gives (it gets you past the first guard) ebbs quickly, once you’re with more established reporters in the international scene.. The press center (or bull pen) is bright, large and well-planned, where some correspondents look more intelligent and more ravaged by others.
It is always a rousing and dramatic session. Bob Arum, who is still astonishingly handsome and oozing with chutzpah, moderates.
If you need a quotable item, reporters from prominent papers readily oblige.
But the disturbing thing about the press center was that it made no statement whatsoever.
In its opacity and constriction, it could not even act as a reflector of thought — although, presumably, inside this room, the spirit of a man will be both represented and worshipped.
Here, some 300 or so international reporters waited anxiously. For the most avid fans of the champ (who were worried about his injury), it was harrowing.
When he emerged with 32 stitches above his left eye, all he needed to do was grin and we were all in his hands.
Long after the score has lost importance, we will still remember what the bout was like. We will remember how the adventure had been: the feelings, colors, speed, style, courage, grace, adversary, fatigue and challenge. Who can forget these?
This is what you call total involvement.