And so long as it does this the gangster’s will play. What this also means is that this won’t always be by the rules, even if they are organized.
Boxing has a rich, almost mystical connection to organized crime. Whether this is part of your imagination or based on something you know- I won’t tell – but the mystique is palpable, as is the lore of the gladiator’s march to the ring.
Its intoxication without illegal booze or a shootout without any bullets, for the warrior is capable of taking your breath away then reviving you shortly thereafter.
Or at least you hope.
Before I witnessed what was about to unfold on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk in New Jersey, I thought about a rare meeting of men about to go to war. I thought about Brooklyn and a guy from Sicily named Paulie.
I thought about a real blue capo out in Germany on business to whack a guy with a bad hip. There were 16 men, from different syndicates, out to break more than bread. 8 fights (a few of them with “gangsta” implications) with all the bosses and made men and earners watching.
And watching them all damn near killed me.
It’s amazing what technology can do today, as it’s shrunk the planet and made things accessible like never before- even as you watch other fights "live".
Sturm thumped Barker in the 1st and pounded him out in the 2nd while managing to re-injure Darren’s faulty hip in the process. Since Gennady “GGG” Golovkin likes to fight every couple weeks it seems, that might not be a bad international fight.
James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia certainly wasn't a bad local one. It just ended too late. Jersey product Glen Tapia, whom I was admittedly cheering for, took a comprehensive beating in the co-feature of HBO’s telecast featuring Cuban star Guillermo Rigondeaux against Joseph Agbeko (more on this dreadful affair soon) from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Somewhere in between watching Tapia just "decide" to absorb power shots from a seemingly possessed James Kirkland (his corner, and referee Steve Smoger, should be arrested for not saving Glen before the 6th, AWFUL), I saw Austin Trout drowning at the hands and swift feet of Erislandy Lara.
It was a stylistically bad fight for Trout, as both are counter-punchers who move. But Lara really moved, and exposed and dropped Trout badly on the way to a clear points win.
Lara and Kirkland wouldn't be a bad idea come to think of it. Either one of them against Canelo Alvarez is an interesting fight next year.
This was after Matthew Macklin’s return from hell (courtesy of a Golovkin left hook to the liver in the 3rd round) to face late sub Lamar Russ. I thought Macklin should’ve got the knockout, and no longer looked like an elite fighter while getting the 10 round UD over a game Russ.
Now I was starting to feel like Trout.
Porter lifted the crown from Alexander by basically going bootleg Timothy Bradley on him. He mugged Devon, who now has to go back to the drawing board, while Porter has some interesting options ahead of him as a new champion.
Dirrell and Bika had pockets of action, but it was a sloppy saga full of fouls and I didn’t think Dirrell deserved a draw, anymore than Bika deserved to be wearing Andre Ward’s WBC super middleweight belt.
Floyd Mayweather took two non-injury related hiatuses, which were longer than the injury which cost Ward his WBC title for non-defense, which never resulted in Floyd being stripped of anything.
Anyway, between putting that thought aside, phone calls and texts, the great Guillermo Rigondeaux was making his way to the ring after the Roger Mayweather led Joseph Agbeko.
“He aint all that,” chimed Uncle Roger, as he’s affectionately called by many. “All you got to do is come at the mother****er with some real skills. I don’t really believe in this mother****er.”
Those remarks guided me as I watched him.
Through 12 rounds of cold-blooded execution and some of the most precise boxing and ring acumen you will ever see in your life from “Rigo”, I watched Roger turn away in disgust and the room literally clear out. It was as if somebody opened the door and let a whole bunch of humidity in the building, causing people to squirm and leave the building.
As this was happening, I was intermittingly peering at Zab Judah’s challenge of old friend Paulie Malignaggi for Brooklyn supremacy. Or at least, that’s how it was sold. Paulie did what I expected him to do to Zab, because he really believes in himself and has always fought with a purpose Judah has never really had.
I don’t believe that fight proved Paulie is the “King” of anything in Brooklyn at all, but it may have shown that he has more will than any other fighter in New York’s most celebrated borough. After dropping a clear UD in favor of “made-guy” Paulie (I can’t help it, I really admire him), Judah told reporters that Malignaggi “didn’t want to engage”, even as he knew that wasn't true and that the mirror would reveal something different.
Anyone who’s ever beaten Malignaggi understood that he couldn't hurt them and wouldn't voluntarily be broken. Yet Paulie understood that Zab could be broken, despite the power to hurt him, and that was always going to be the difference in this fight. It’s time for the proud Judah to walk away from the sport with his head held very high.
I’ll close with some final thoughts on Rigondeaux.
I am a fan of both boxing and “boxers”, and as a friend of mine astutely pointed out, there’s a profound difference because many are either one or the other. That goes for many journalists, who are often both, and if they tell you anything different- they’re lying.
Everyone has favorites, as it makes us human.
I did an article several months ago which saw me rant against HBO and Top Rank for what I felt was unfair treatment of Rigondeaux.
I didn't understand how you can beat and humiliate a pound for pound star in Nonito Donaire so thoroughly, and then get humiliated and dismissed for doing it. But after watching Guillermo the other night, “he” is a pot calling the kettle black.
I've had my moments with Floyd Mayweather (God knows you "ALL" know this), but his uncle’s words and flashes of Floyd himself went through my mind. There have been plenty of moments in Floyd’s career where he has stood in the eye of his opponents’ storm and shut down thunder and lightning. Not only that, but after doing it- he made it rain. Rigondeaux by comparison, walks around underneath an umbrella and acts like he’s listening to the hit by Rihanna while he’s doing it.
He’s not being fair to himself or us, in my opinion, and he needs to act like someone that needs to take more chances to get a defining moment.
Top Rank may match him with Leo Santa Cruz, which is an excellent fight and may force Rigondeaux to show us just how great he is. I think he wins that fight- but I’m not sure- because I’m not really sure he totally believes in his ability to take punches if he has to.
Two fighters I believe would really expose this- and beat him – are Mikey Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko. Garcia has the offense, technique and skills to take Rigondeaux through the type of oppression he hasn’t seen since his darkest days in Cuba, and Lomachenko would put him in a Ukrainian basement with Ivan Drago watching.
In this era of the “catchweight”, before he gets worn down, that is a gangster sit-down worth having. Otherwise, I don’t know about you, but I’m not coming back to the “Boredwalk”.