Boxing’s absence leads to greater appreciation for the sport
Growing up, most televised events in my house were seen on a small TV on a turntable just outside the kitchen.
Living in the country, cable TV wasn’t an option, and satellite TV, if it was even available when I was little, consisted of installing one of those massive dishes outside your house. Our TV viewing consisted of local news, “Wheel of Fortune,” “Unsolved Mysteries” and whatever local sporting events were available over the air.
Boxing was rarely, if ever, available. Outside of occasional reruns of a Mike Tyson fight, it was impossible to keep up with the sport; although at age 10, I really had no desire to do so.
But in December of 1995, something changed. For some reason, a heavyweight fight between Mike Tyson and Buster Mathis, Jr. was going to be on Fox. Even though I hadn’t seen much boxing, I knew of Mike Tyson, and knew I was going to see something special. My family’s use of the bigger TV in the living room, combined with my dad waiving my 8:30 p.m. bedtime so I could see “Iron Mike” only added to my excitement.
“Is that the way the punches sound? Are they really hitting that hard?” I asked my dad throughout the undercard. “Yeah, Bake, that’s the way they sound,” my dad replied, while jokingly mentioning throughout the night that he could whip whoever was fighting.
I don’t really remember anything particularly memorable about Tyson’s 3rd round knockout of Mathis, Jr., but I still remember it being a fun night with my dad and brother, in a rare opportunity to watch a boxing match live instead of having to read a blurb about it in the next morning’s paper. Today, I still watch many fights with the two of them.
Now with boxing — and every major sport — postponed as the world battles COVID-19, I’m coming to terms with how much I miss the sport of boxing.
I think about the fights I’ve watched and studied on TV and how eager I am to see them again.
I think about the few fights I’ve seen in person with family and friends — Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios III, Jesse Magdeleno vs. Eric Ruiz, and Deontay Wilder vs. Chris Arreola — and I’m thankful to have had those experiences.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to write about boxing, and in a small way, be a part of a tremendous sport. I’m thankful for the people I’ve met who’ve broadened my knowledge. People like former Ring Magazine editor Randy Gordon, who, when I reached out blindly to him in 2016 requesting an interview for a story on Dominic Breazeale, was gracious enough to make time for me. Bernie Campbell, for first introducing me to FightSaga, Lee Cleveland, editor of FightSaga, for providing me a platform to share my thoughts. Being Facebook friends with people like Rick Glaser and George Ward has helped me gain knowledge of the sport as well.
It’s not as though this appreciation just dawned on me. But in a fast paced world with fights on ESPN, Fox, Showtime and DAZN, it’s easy to become solely focused on why a fight isn’t happening or what fight should happen next.
As a journalist, and follower of boxing, those topics need to be explored and written about. A critical eye is also important. However, it’s equally important to appreciate the fighters and fights we do get to see.
There was a time in my life when watching boxing wasn’t possible. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that time has returned. As I hope and pray for an end to this virus, I wish peace to those who have lost loved ones and strength for health care workers and first responders. I’m thankful for my family, friends and blessings I have in my life.
Boxing is among those blessings.