Meanwhile, at the Forum
While most of the attention was focused on the showdown between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares at the Staples Center, there was another card taking place in Los Angeles at the Forum featuring Shane Mosley’s not-so-anticipated rematch against Ricardo Mayorga. While Santa Cruz-Mares was another card under the huge Premier Boxing Champions umbrella, which is propped up by a hedge fund, Mosley’s card was basically a mom-and-pop operation, self-financed and promoted by his own company, GoBox Promotions.
While the fight at the Staples Center was broadcast by ESPN, this one was part of a small pay-per-view broadcast. It’s safe to guess which show played to the larger audience.
For those who made their way to the venerable building on Manchester Blvd., it was certainly an interesting night. And yes, I was one of them.
Just to park was a little costly, $25. I was told I was on the media parking list a day or two prior. As I went to the Kareem Court entrance, I was told there was no list and that perhaps I should try to enter by the broadcasters entrance. Well, as I get up there, I see Ryan Burton – who was actually on the broadcast team as an interpreter – and he had problems getting in. Seeing that this was going to be a losing battle, I just forked out $25 to park (and there was no way I was going for that $40 “premium” parking, which, quite honestly, wasn’t all that much more convenient than what I had paid for).
Next time, I might just Uber it over there.
I’m told later that one of the reasons there was no media parking list is that a lady named “Bonita,” who had been a part of this promotion, was fired on Friday. Yeah, that’s never a good sign.
Now, this is where things got rather…well, interesting. As you got your credential, you were then told to wait in a group and then you would be escorted to the press section. Yeah, that was a new one. Usually, you just get your credential and you’re free to just go down to your seat. Here, you were made to wait till there was a group that had formed, then chaperoned to the seating area. I guess this is what being in a prison must be like. This particular press row didn’t have any assigned seats and we were basically free to sit wherever we wanted in the first few rows.
(Note to Shane: Please get some help in this department. Hire an experienced publicist the next time around. Just getting to your press row perch shouldn’t be this cumbersome or a hassle.)
I sidled up to my old Maxboxing colleague, Doug Fischer and UCNLive.com’s Mike Baca II (who did the deadline story for this card).
Yeah, we all just had that kind of feeling that it was going to be one of those funny nights you won’t soon forget. People have asked why I chose to cover this card and not the other. Well, like David Avila (who was in the row in front of us), I’ve decided to not cover PBC events. To date, I still have never applied for a credential to one of those cards (besides, aren’t all their shows on FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE television?). And, quite frankly, there was a morbid curiosity over the Mosley-Mayorga II promotion, in which you had Don King trying to stop this fight, a butt-slap of Mosley’s significant other and the steadfastness of Shane, who simply would not be deterred.
Could he actually pull this off?
I give them credit. They really did try their best to drum up interest in this event, which was always going to play second-fiddle to the card at the Staples Center. It took a certain amount of hubris – and some would say foolishness – to go on with this particular date.
As I looked around press row, I saw just a few of the established local press guys and a lot of others who probably weren’t with the media but given passes. Some of them had beer with them, which led me to ask Doug, ‘Hey, after this fight, wanna grab a beer?’ Doug didn’t hesitate to say yes and, soon, it was Doug, Mike and I going to grab a brew. Yeah, it’s generally frowned upon but, honestly, on this particular night at this particular fight, who the hell was going to stop us?
We got back to the press section and I suggested we drink our beers in the back area where there were whole rows of empty seats. Hey, this way, there’s no risk of spilling anything on our laptops. As we sit down, there’s a break between fights as Jas Phipps blew out his shoulder against Ronald Ellis in the early rounds. Well, anyway, to keep us and the rather sparse crowd entertained at the time, a techno-pop group performed inside the ring. This amused us quite a bit. Hey, we knew what we were getting into. To paraphrase Bobby Knight, you might as well sit back and enjoy it.
Then you had a fight that wasn’t on the bout sheet, two bikini-clad girls (and, yes, there were a lot of those walking around ringside throughout the evening) wearing inflatable gloves, “fighting” each other. I tweeted that it was still better than most Top Rank Promotions pay-per-view undercard fights. However, what was ironic about all of this was there were press releases sent out regarding this show, announcing Maureen Shea’s inclusion on this card as a way to combat sexism in boxing.
Yeah, cue Alanis Morissette.
I can’t lie; I rather enjoyed the whole spectacle. Besides, it made for some great Twitter fodder. We were cracking jokes and generally being silly as this whole scene was taking place. Doug and I decided we can be serious on the nights of Oct. 17 and Nov. 21. Tonight, we let the good times roll. “Fighting” Fischer battled it out on Twitter with trolls throughout the card, who I long ago blocked. Seriously, Doug actually likes going at it with them. I can’t help but laugh – and retweet – some of his replies (Doug then carried the battle into Sunday with these guys on Twitter!).
Later on, Joel Diaz Jr. stops Luis Arceo, who was a bloody mess after four rounds. Diaz, who trains in Big Bear with Abel Sanchez, is a fan-friendly type, who will consistently make for good fights but you have to wonder just how high is ceiling is. I spot Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2 Promotions, who came to lend support to Diaz and Sanchez. I say hello to him and ask, “Taking notes on how to promote?” and he just chuckles. A lot of you may not know this but when Loeffler ran Mouthpiece Sports Management in the 1990s, one of his clients was Mosley.
There were two more musical acts that performed inside the ring for this card. So, yeah, Roc Nation Sports, eat your heart out! As the pay-per-view broadcast gets going, Doug and Mike look around the arena and guestimate that there are probably around 3,500-4,000 people in the building. In contrast, the Santa Cruz-Mares fight drew right around 13,000. Yeah, this was a far cry from Gennady Golovkin drawing just under 12,500 when he faced Willie Monroe Jr. back on May 17 but, quite honestly, it’s more than I expected. Yeah, there were giveaways to military veterans but my personal over/under for this card’s attendance was right around 2,000.
After Diaz’s victory, Maureen Shea and Yulihan Avila battled to a 10-round draw. Then in the night’s featured attraction, Mosley halted an out-of-condition Mayorga with a body shot at the end of the sixth frame. There were flashes in which Mosley looked good, throwing quick right hands over the top and some left hooks to the body. But the reality is he is 43 years old and, while he can beat the Mayorgas of the world, there’s a reason he had just one victory in his previous six fights coming in. At one time, Mosley was one of the most dynamic and gifted fighters around but that was last seen during the final days of the George W. Bush administration.
But Mosley remains undaunted. He said to the gathered press afterward that he would be ready to fight again by November. I had the chance to ask him if he would continue on with GoBox Promotions, whether he was fighting or not and he insisted he would be. For his sake, I hope he concentrates full time on training and promoting. I just don’t see where his fighting career goes at this juncture.
As the tables and chairs were being put away by the Forum staff, Doug and Mike were literally the last two writers typing away their stories. Fischer will readily admit that he’s usually the final one to finish up and I can vouch for that. This goes all the way back to our days at Maxboxing. Baca, a bright, young scribe, who still isn’t even at the stage where he’s cynical, is always thorough. But yeah, this duo was working away as almost every other table had been broken down.
We decide to grab a bite to eat (yeah, we didn’t care if it was nighttime in Inglewood – besides this is Doug’s neighborhood!) and we are joined by Andreas Hale, who writes for various publications as RingTV and some hip-hop sites. Doug, who knows the lay of the land, picks out a local Mexican spot for us and we sit down to some tacos and burritos. A good time is had as we swap stories, gossip and just generally take in what we had just witnessed the past few hours.
Yeah, the fights may have been forgettable but we won’t soon forget what we had seen over the past few hours.
Here’s my cover story for KoreAm magazine on Gennady Golovkin and his Korean lineage.
Santa Cruz-Mares was the very good fight most had expected. I think Leo’s ability to box and work from distance really separated him from Abner in the second half…As I mentioned in another article last week, look for Top Rank to potentially come back here in November with Brandon Rios and Vasyl Lomachenko…Great game between Montana and North Dakota State to kick off the college football season…Can’t wait for Thursday when the season really kicks off…Is Duke Johnson OK?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.