This past Friday outside of the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, this writer began a unique countdown to history. On hand to watch the latest ‘Premier Boxing Champion’ event between Andre Dirrell and Badou Jack on SPIKE TV and positioned in an very ostentatious MP jacket while texting, hecklers began to chant “TMT! TMT! TMT!”, which was greeted by smiles in their direction.
“Yo you brave for wearing that ‘PAC MAN’ jacket around here [fam]! Floyd gone whoop his ass,” barked the anonymous fan. The smiling continued, as it was hard to ignore all of the ‘TBE’ hats, shirts and memorabilia present at an event which had nothing to do with a “D-Day” of sorts on May 2.
Taking the opportunity to gather that fan and a small segment of those who felt as he did together, they were all asked by yours truly why they felt that way.
The responses ranged from “Floyd’s too fast, too smart” to “Manny ain’t ready for Floyd” to “He’s never been beaten”. But the unwritten and underlying reason from Chi-town seemed to be pointed more toward ethnic pride as opposed to fistic integrity. The language and street vernacular used while discussing and breaking down the fight, established the common ties that exist between us — PAC MAN jacket be damned.
We posed for a picture which froze the faces of participants in a fair fight of 1 against 10, with the winner being boxing.
Less than 24 hours later at Hostelling International on the upper west side of New York City, a posh retreat of sorts for students around the world who’ve embarked on the “Big Apple”, the article Wladimir Klitschko: Dr. Steelhammer diagnoses Bryant Jennings in NYC at MSG is being written.
Not only were there thousands of Ukrainian nationals in attendance for the bout, but many of them were also staying at this hostel in support of Klitschko. Yet the chatter going on around the lobby emanated Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao in their native tongue, as a member of security personnel identified this fight writer and approached with a lot of enthusiasm.
“Yo! I gotta take a picture of this,” the man shouted, citing what was to him an uncanny resemblance to Mayweather. “With that hat on and your goatee- you look like Floyd Mayweather! I love your work man!”
A little embarrassed and somewhat humbled, it was very easy to oblige while engaging a now approaching foreign contingent in a memorable exchange. Having written so much about the subject of this fight for much of the month while planning for this journey, fatigue was beginning to set in. But their perspective was energizing was from an other-worldly point of view because it was so unique.
Wearing a ‘TMT’ shirt with a black Chicago White Sox shirt while penning the article on Klitschko (and apparently looking like Mayweather), it was assumed that there was a rooting interest in Mayweather and a need to defend Pacquiao.
“Pacquiao is going to be too fast and too much for Mayweather,” revealed a young student from Russia. “There is no way he can be ready for Manny’s aggressiveness and power. You will be very surprised.”
After taking pictures and chatting it up with the security guard, it was time to embark on a meeting with Lennox Lewis and get a general feel from the public about the upcoming superfight. The overwhelming majority of them felt (or at least hoped) that Pacquiao would indeed defeat Mayweather.
“I do know that Pacquiao will probably force a very pace and he’ll be very bold,” said Lewis. “I’m also sure that Floyd will not just allow Manny to control things and won’t bend. That’s where it gets interesting.”
To be one of two participants in a fight that seems as if it rivals Achilles vs. Prince Hector in historical significance, one can imagine the need to make the world around you as small as possible. With so many voices and so many things written as the countdown culminates to an unforgettable May 2 evening, it would seem natural to want to tune out chatter of any kind.
That’s the feeling that this writer has been loaded with, as the weight of things written bear upon the shoulders a feeling of “just give us the damn fight already”. On Monday, the push to Las Vegas began from that New York City setting, with another stopover in Chicago, where lunch at one of Guy Fieri’s (from popular Food Network show “Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives”) favorite spots “bopNgrill” just had to happen (the Umami Burger is off-the-damn-chain).
Since that time, there’s been no ESPN or reading of articles of any sort pertaining to the fight until this Thursday morning. It was only then that the arrivals between the two fighters was watched and any coverage in between (including the Showtime specials).
Between no WiFi in remote places in Kansas or being lost in the mountain regions of Colorado, there was often no way to engage media and it was actually kind of refreshing. Two friends Conroy Legair and Damarius Washington, along for the journey from Chicago and both avid TMT fans, more than made up for any otherwise lack of banter.
“I think Floyd’s control of distance and his reach advantage will be the key in getting a points win,” opined a philosophical and cerebral Washington, who would remind one of a hybrid Idris Elba and Adrian Peterson. “He’s too smart and will figure out a way to deal with Pacquiao.
This was fair, and could only produce some raised eyebrows with knowing head nods. But then came Legair.
“Mayweather never made Oscar de la hoya or Miguel Cotto drain to fight him, and he beat Marquez’s ass,” pounded the obnoxious Legair, who would remind you of Vin Diesel from a royal Caribbean family. “Pacquiao is garbage and not anywhere close to Mayweather’s level. You know this is the damn truth!”
“Please. Oscar was the A side and set terms, and Cotto was 200% ready for Pacquiao,” spanked yours truly in response. “Plus you’re deciding to ignore Marquez was brought up from 135 to 144 to face Floyd, who also got an extra 2lbs on Marquez coming in at 146. Your allegiance to Floyd clouds your judgment.”
This drew laughter from what seemed like the entire train.
After a short bus ride from Arizona last night, we arrived upon the desert oasis that is Las Vegas, with a palpable feeling of “superfight” in the air. Las Vegas is much bigger and glitzier than ever for this epic summit, as all things Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao almost rains from an electrifying skyline that needs no umbrella.
You would find yourself soaked in pre-fight regalia as we were this morning, taking in the poolside exchange between Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s “First Take”. Now totally up to date on any and everything that’s transpired this week (including a subdued final presser between the two and Mike Tyson’s fiery observations), this city is ready to explode for an anti-climactic weigh-in and an anticipated action fight.
While Freddie Roach, yesterday, remains entertainingly unsure as to whether or not Mayweather will show up to face a Pacquiao glowing with a God-complex on Saturday, today, ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” ran a scathing and very damning feature on Mayweather’s history with domestic violence.
On the eve of this fight, it adds even more intrigue to the most compelling bout between what some would regard as a 400 million dollar question of sovereignty between good vs. evil.
The ubiquitous and larger-than-life displays around Vegas of two fighters with superhero and villain-like auras respectively, contrast perfectly with the release of Marvel’s summer blockbuster “The Avenger’s: Age of Ultron” tomorrow. As such, there’s this quiet simmering taking place far hotter than the arid 90 degree weather in Las Vegas, one that produced recollections of a reflection while on the road for this fight…
Journal entry observation for May n Pac, 11:22a.m. MT near Denver.
“Noise. Sometimes to really hear something you have to appreciate silence. The sound of things written can become so loud in your head, that all you want to do is just turn down the volume and blast the radio. It makes the snow capped mountains look better. The view from the top of them is so much quieter than the plains. As I imagine Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather standing on the top of those mountains, I do so knowing one of them will be knocked down to the plains. If the fall doesn’t kill him, then the silence will.”
Tomorrow… The Superfight Edition: Pacquiao vs. Mayweather [Vol.X] “Ut-0”