LOS ANGELES—Who said downtown LA only gets crowded when the Lakers are playing? Last Wednesday, the only game in town was when boxing superstars Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao were in this city. Like a heady bouillabaisse, there is more to the who did it, to whom. It is more than trading blows, where the next black eye or head butt, at its best, or knockout at its worst. It is also about warring cultures, national bragging rights. Throw in the animated bunch of the hysterical fans.
You can’t miss the overall cultural aridity, melting in flamboyance, and vigor among the 700 or so media from all over the world, stretched along the red carpet, the size of a football field, in an irreverence condoned all over the press con venue.
The spirit of boxing has no definition. It is the intoxicating prospect of standing where few have stood up, seeing sights that few others have seen. Oh, the pleasure of watching the drama, sharing the spectacle, being part of the victory.
Scores will lose its importance, but we will remember what the fight was like, long after the date has faded. We will remember the adventures , the feeling, the sound of wings, the boxers’ speed, the style, the courage, the adversary, the fatigue, the challenge. All these we will remember. While some forms of entertainment are coarsening, boxing as entertainment is a class by itself. Unlike movies, it’s a little bigger, gaudier, than the strict facts of fist delights.
It starts with two consenting adult who want to batter, knock or beat each other out for the amusement of paying adults. Throw in the great literature themes—money, power, sex that gets played out. By the time the fight rolls around, everyone’s passion is so inflamed, ready to explode like a punctured powder keg. That is the boxing world.
Like any other better sports that exemplify excellence, boxing demands bravery. It is done well and beautifully by finely honed physical talents.
There is a tremendous fascination in boxing.
Boxing can become a brutal, abominable game with the human beast killing itself. Yet as much as you reject or condemn it, boxing always excites in the end. When you’re at the ring side, you get more and more excited, until you find yourself caught up in it, taking part, urging them on.
In the square jungle of the pugilist arena, good stories are good stories, regardless of who tells them. Whatever your story conveys, you will know what it is to have been there.
Seasoned sports writers, use the tip of a wedge in their stories, I’ve always done my athletic meanderings from a different view, instead, soft and caring like a warm glove.
While everything about the kick off press con, brimmed and sparkled, it was old news. But it was all there.
The afternoon sang!