It’s the end of the world! Well, not really. Sportscasters weren’t predicting doom when they dubbed this weekend as “Sportsmageddon.” The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing. The NFL draft is in its third day. The Kentucky Derby will showcase the best in thoroughbred racing today. The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox renew their timeless rivalry. And, of course, the granddaddy of all spectacles-American Prizefighting presents the much anticipated boxing match between Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Boxing fans from all over the world have flocked to Las Vegas, Nevada, in hopes of witnessing what is being promoted as the premier fight of the century. Others will watch in crowded bars or from the comfort of their own homes for a whopping $100 a pop. Whew! The price of ordering a fight has sure gone up over the years.
Before you accuse me of becoming the old curmudgeon that even I fear I may be evolving into, let me just say that I don’t consider it to be entirely foolish to pay $100 to watch a boxing match on television. On the contrary, what may turn out to be the unwise decision is to dismiss the potential for the unexpected to occur in a boxing match. Take for example all of the sports fans who were convinced that James “Buster” Douglas didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world “Iron” Mike Tyson. So what did they do? They watched the NBA Slam Dunk Contest which was being telecast on TNT, and woke up the next morning to the startling news that “Buster” Douglas had knocked Mike Tyson out in the 10th round.
Or take for example the night I begged my brother to order the Roy Jones Jr. vs. Antonio Tarver rematch. We were at his apartment, I was desperate to watch the fight, and completely at his mercy. I pleaded with him, “Please order the fight. I will pay for it. It’s only $50.” He shrugged me off with a cold shoulder and said “We’re not ordering the fight. The Lakers are playing tonight. We’re watching Shaq and Kobe.” I wouldn’t give up. I kept bugging him about it because I had a funny feeling that something spectacular would happen. He finally relented only after I again promised to pay the $50 for the fight. And what happened? Roy Jones Jr., who had only been knocked down in a fight once before, got knocked out in the 2nd round. No one ever thought Roy Jones Jr. would ever be knocked out. I let out a triumphant yell when he went down, “I told you! I told you!”
This time around I don’t have that same feeling. My boxing intuition is not telling me that I’m going to miss anything phenomenal by not ordering the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight tonight. My sentiment mirrors many in the boxing world that this fight should have taken place years ago, when both fighters were still in their prime. Truth be told, I don’t have $100 to spend on a boxing match these days. I can’t even afford cable television. I use an antenna to watch over-the-air digital television programming. I listen to my beloved New York Yankees on AM radio. Fortunately for me and other modern day rabbit ear using boxing fans, CBS and NBC have teamed up to present Premier Boxing Champions on some Saturday afternoons and evenings. On these Saturdays, new up and coming boxers are featured, hearkening back to the good old days of ABC’s Wide World of Sports when boxing was showcased from time to time. Unfortunately, no fights are scheduled on NBC or CBS until next Saturday.
With all of the buzz surrounding the big fight tonight, I find myself scratching my head, trying to find a way to satisfy my craving for jabs, stiff arms, uppercuts, hooks, clinches, elbows, head-butts, cornermen, enswells, occasional low blows and rabbit punches, ear biting, crazed fans parachuting into the middle of the ring, ripped trunks exposing bare ass, urine drinking, knockouts (technical and otherwise), standing 8 counts, unanimous decisions, split decisions, draws, disqualifications, no contests, ringside judges, commentators, referees, entourages, grand musical entrances, weigh-ins, bells ringing “ding, ding,” post-fight interviews and brawls, promises for rematches, national anthems, multicolored trunks, gloves, robes, flying mouthpieces, water bottles, Vaseline, smelling salts, buckets, guts, blood, sweat, tears, snot, spit, ring card girls, and celebrities present in the front 5 rows visible at the very top of my television screen. But what do you do if you can’t afford Pay-per-view?
So, here’s how I’m going to spend “Sportsmaggedon.” As I’m typing this up, I’m watching the Washington Capitals square off on ice against the New York Rangers. I have the sound muted, so that I can listen to the Yankees and Red Sox game on my radio. I’ll watch the horses run in the Kentucky Derby. And then…I’m going to watch Rocky. Yep. Rocky! And I’m going to go on record as saying that even though I know Apollo Creed wins, it will be more satisfying than if I had purchased the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. When Rocky humbly steps into the ring tonight, via the 2 Disc Collector’s Edition DVD that I purchased for $5.99 at Barnes & Noble, he won’t be doing it for a 75 million dollar check. When Apollo cockily strides into the ring tonight, regaling in full Americana apparel, even he won’t be doing it for a 100 million dollar paycheck. Mickey will be in one corner and Duke in the other. Adrian will be watching on with thousands of other Philadelphians. Butkus will be slurping up water and food out of his bowl at home. I’ll use the special feature option to include audio commentary from the director, producers and cast members. I’ll throw a frozen pizza pie in the oven and maybe crack open a “cold one.” When it’s over I’ll watch Saturday Night Live like I do every Saturday. When that’s over I’ll probably fall asleep, and then wake up in the morning to find out if the boxing world as been forever changed.