The past couple years, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done a weekly post with some NFL thoughts and observations, mostly about the experience of watching such an Americana-driven sport. However, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not really a football guy, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve found that I often simply donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a whole lot to say about the sport itself, especially on weeks when I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to watch many games. As such, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d still like to give this a go this year, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to expand it to whateverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on my mind. Expect it anywhere between Monday and Wednesday.
Before the hurricane hit the New York area on Saturday, I hauled out to Long Island on Friday night for the annual draft of my main fantasy football league. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty hardcore: 14 teams, an archaic and esoteric scoring system, two keepers, and it started 16 years ago when the majority of the league owners were in high school together. (IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve participated for 10.)
I probably would have driven through the hurricane itself to get there since for the first time since I joined my co-owner in the league, we won the whole thing, resulting in an $1,100 payday. We were powered by a well-balanced team and the shrewd first-week waiver-wire pickup of Michael Vick, which I commemorated by wearing his jersey to the draft, to the chagrin of everyone.
I think the best way to ponder our own inevitable passage into physical decline is to watch it happen to those who would seem invincible to such mortal constraints Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and observe how they handle it.
About two hours before TuesdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s promotional press conference for Floyd MayweatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s return to the ring against Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17, the fans waiting outside were privy to a bizarre scene about a block from the Hudson Theater, as a somewhat unhinged would-be rapper climbed a light pole in the middle of Times Square and wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come down.
Traffic was diverted for 20 blocks as he did pull-ups and tossed CDs to bemused onlookers. After a couple of hours, he finally descended right around the time Golden Boy ushered everyone in for the presser, reportedly of his own volition.
Maybe he was just tired of the attention.
In a wonderful development, my girlfriend has really gotten into boxing in recent months, becoming invested in fights IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d turn on while she studied for law school exams. It was pretty much a no-brainer, as I think anythingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s better than reading that stuff, but it got to the point that she watched Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal two weeks ago without me.
So when she asked me recently to take her to her first boxing match, I was like, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I guessÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â
No, honestly, I was ecstatic. And I wanted to make sure to pick a fight that would properly represent the experience, and hopefully have her interested in going to more.
We ended up going to SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Super Six semifinal between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson. It didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t disappoint — I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t term it a great fight, but it was certainly a very good one that wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t short on action. There was a decent helping of suspense; it was a tough fight to call live, and sure enough, one of the judges had it a draw.
There was also the requisite amount of danger; Froch outclassed Johnson down the stretch en route to a majority decision, but the old warhorse pressed him the entire fight and managed to connect flush with a couple of not insignificant right hands — one in particular, in the eighth round, that produced a satisfying gasp from the assembled masses.
But more so than the fights themselves, we enjoyed the intimacy of the proceedings — which, in all honesty, is what keeps me coming back.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard so many people who ordered Pacquiao-Mosley say they felt cheated.
With all due respect, if you expected anything other than what you got, you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been paying enough attention.
The two Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti fights I attended rank up there with the Mike Piazza post-9/11 game as the best sporting events IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been to live.
As such, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve eagerly awaited The Fighter since first seeing the trailer. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just not good at actually carving out time to go to the movies, so it took me a while to see it after it released.
Bear in mind IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never actually done a movie review. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m far from qualified to be a film critic, as evidenced by my affinity for Ichi the Killer. But for what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worth, I did very much enjoy The Fighter, as a fight fan and in general.
Of course, it was by no means a perfect film.
There was a moment on Saturday night, right after Paul Williams crumpled to the mat, when even Sergio Martinez had yet to fully register what had taken place.
It reminded me of watching PiazzaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s post-9/11 homer floating past me in the upper deck at Shea. Watching the formerly feared Williams sprawl face-first on the mat, time slowed to a crawl as our minds furiously processed what we had seen. And as MartinezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s jubilation took hold, everyone erupted, regardless of rooting interest.
A moment like that is a reminder that through all of the issues and nonsense boxing fans are privy to, it finds a way in the end to give us something to hold on to.
The fact that Manny PacquiaoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whitewash of Antonio Margarito last Saturday drew anywhere between 1.25-1.4 million pay-per-view buys, depending on who you ask, is a testament to two things: the popularity of Pacquiao, and the effectiveness of the HBO 24/7 program.
TonightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez rematch in Atlantic City, which I will be attending, has neither of those aspects in its favor. But while last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spectacle was valuable in that it showed that boxing could still be a major mainstream draw, the vibe for tonightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fight from fans and writers actually possesses more excitement.
Last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fight was for everyone. This oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s for us.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not really a boxing fan,Ã¢â‚¬Â the guy working at Champs Sports in Times Square told me as I tried on a Manny Pacquiao sweatshirt. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But I never miss one of MannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fights.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been expecting anyone other than Antonio Margarito to be waiting in the ring for Manny Pacquiao this November, you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been paying attention. This is the fight Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wanted all along.
Disappointed itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather? Sure, me too.
But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the way this sport works. Nothing comes easy. There are always agendas.