I believe words must be conquered, lived, and that the apparent publicity they recieve from the dictionary is a falsehood. Nobody should dare to write "outskirts" without having spent hours pacing their high sidewalks; without having desired and suffered as if they were a lover; without having felt their walls, their lots, their moons just around the corner from the general store, like a cornucopia...
-JL Borges 1926
There is only one sport near and dear to my heart I love, none other "the beautiful game." No on can agree on who coined soccer (other parts of the world, football) as "the beautiful game" however, everyone agrees soccer is special to the world. Playing roughly all of my adolescence on those green fields chasing a peppered ball to only place it in white net, and in college cheering wildly for our favorite national or club team with teammates. The beautiful game did not start with the "stars", but with the youth playing on grassy, dirt, and asphalt fields chasing a ball made of hope and dreams. A game is not won on statistics alone, but by securing goals. The English play with tactics, Germans with efficiency, Brazilians with flair and Americans with grit. Soccer by definition is a world sport.
Boxing is rarely about beauty, it pits two beasts, pummeling each other with jabs, uppercuts, and haymakers in 12 rounds that last 3 minutes long. Death is not a rare occurrence in the ring. The crowd present and at home want the drama of a knockout. We root for the challenger, and despise the champion. We hate the prettyboy, and marvel at the history of cuts and bruises of the old timer. Fighters win and primadonnas hit the canvas. A fight is won by knockout or by outpucnhing your oppenent, statistics matter. Boxing by definition is a mans' sport.
I never understood boxing before 1992, that is, until I saw my first Pay Per View championship fight. Julio Cesar Chavez, the Lion of Culiacan, defending his WBC Lightweight belt against the speedy challenger Hector "Macho" Camacho in September 1992. For me, Camacho had a few things going against him, he had too much flair, very pompous, and not Mexican, were the easiest of features only a 12 year old boy could dislike on a boxer. In my eyes, Chavez was the darling, the Champion, 81-0 record, a Mexican folk hero and a legend in the making. With Mariachi music as he entered the ring, all of us were in awe.
Being part of a youth traveling soccer team, weekends were spent in hotel rooms, prepping for a tournament of games in Sacramento, Fresno, Davis, Los Angeles and San Diego was never out of the ordinary. One particular weekend, the fathers could not imagine of missing a highly anticipated fight. After our second game of the day was over, we rushed to the hotel to shower, sped to a nearby eatery, and hauled ourselves back to the room to watch the Chavez v Camacho fight.
The fight is considered legendary, cat vs mouse, the stronger Chavez punishing the fleeing Camacho, as a cat toying with its prey. By the seventh round, Chavez was in total control of the fight, Camacho failed to throw in the towel as his ringside suggested, the challenger would last five more rounds surviving a bloody pulp assault to his face and figure.
It was probably the best fight a 12 year old boy could of witness as his first. There are a few first memories men will cherish, their first fist fight in the school yard (a bully named Ryan), first crush on a pinup (Cindy Crawford), their first soccer goal (five years old in AYSO game) and their first PPV Title Match.
I will always remember JC Chavez the way I did in 1992. A Champion, Pound for Pound best fighter in the world, and a folk hero Mexican. The scandals, the losses, the women, the ad campaigns over time would dent JC Chavez credibility in my eyes and countless of others, I hear he even has a junior who wants to fight PACMAN Pacquiao.
A couple of nights ago, memories began to fill my eyes with tears of remembered youth, as I knocked out Sugar Shane Mosley in the seventh round of a Welterweight title match in EA's Fight Night Round 4. Mosley leaned into a haymaker uppercut, Mosley falls, referee counts to ten, fight over.