For one Saturday night, the fight game returned.
Young Mixed Martial Arts champ Conor McGregor climbed into the Marquess of Queensberry rules boxing ring with an aging but still world champion Floyd Mayweather.
It felt a bit like what my daughter Katy describes as my “olden days.” Apparently my olden days are much more archaic than others – who knew. Apparently that is why God gave us children rather than something edible like out-of-date plain yogurt.
Anyway, reeling myself back to the fights.
As a kid (let’s keep it our secret from Katy and the young writers surrounding me, that I was once young and in theory not always correct), I used to sit with my dad on our farm on the hill and watch the Gillette Friday night fights. We watched on our fancy Zenith black and white with four channels. As I recall it was Brakeman Bill was on 11, Wunda Wunda on 4, J.P. Patches on 7 and someone all mopey on 5.
Back to the fights.
The buildup to the McGregor-Mayweather fight reminded me of the first Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston heavyweight title fight. I sat with my dad and we watched everything we could find on our four channels.
When Liston didn’t come out in the seventh round and Ali took the title, it was like the world suddenly became a more electric place.
My dad was a boxer, and we discussed every aspect of the fight and Ali’s tactics. Saturdays were taken up watching Howard Cosell replay and analyze Ali’s fights over the years.
Earlier in my writing career I covered boxing for a time. I was hired because no one else close by knew anything about the fight game. Those Friday nights with my dad landed me a job when I really needed it.
Years later I tried to talk my wife, Ginny, into letting me take my son to cover a lightweight bout. The money guys were trying to move this kid up the lightweight ranks for a possible title shot. Ginny would not hear of it. She did not like boxing nor that I covered the game.
There are two memories that stick with me from the evening.
The first was the main draw bout. The kid’s trainer put him in the ring with a veteran. Unfortunately the veteran could still move and cut the ring off. Suddenly the guys in nice suits in the front row had to figure out a way to keep the kid from getting his head taken off. The fight was called on some weird rule as a no contest. Shortly after the referee stopped the bout, the guys in the audience began throwing chairs and other items into the ring. It was admittedly the better fight.
The melee ended up on TV, and somehow Ginny saw it. I was not terribly successful at sneaking in the house unnoticed that night. I recall a long night of poor excuses and general whining and sniveling. All other memories I have successfully suppressed.
The second eventful moment covering the fights that night was during the undercard – a couple of heavyweights. One was a former Marine who looked like he was constructed from bricks.
The other was a big fleshy kid from Montana, I think. I was sitting on the apron with an old fight guy when the Montana kid passed behind us to climb into the ring.
The old fight guy leaned over to me and said, “Smell that.”
I did, and it was rank. I said, “Yeah.”
“That’s fear,” the fight guy said.
The Montana kid made it into the second round before they carried him out. He seemed like he smelled better on the way out.
I have never forgot that fight guy, or that smell.
It’s in me, too.
Reach Dennis Box, Covington Reporter regional editor, at email@example.com or 425-432-1209, ext. 5050.