|Night of Mismatches
By Vikram Birring, Doghouse Boxing (March 3, 2010)
Eyes don’t speak, but they can tell a story.
Geboria Mayfield’s eyes are wide open, not at a normal diameter, but open like a deer who, in trying to cross a road, has stepped in front of an oncoming automobile; realizing the inevitable.
“Look at that poor girl, she’s scared to death…scared to death.”
Some sadistic soul has tricked her into becoming a professional boxer. In seven professional bouts, her results have been disastrous: two victories, but five defeats, all by way of knockout.
“This is the side of boxing you don’t see.”
Mayfield has no business lacing up gloves, she is a human version of a sacrificial lamb. She is being given away to get beaten up.
As she waits to make her ring walk, she lets out a slight smile. One feels pity for her, for if she had any sane person around her, she would be pulled out of the world of boxing and into a classroom somewhere, studying for a decent job, where she has a chance of success.
Her facial expression hasn’t changed, she is scared, but unlike a cobra who is equipped with venom, she has no skills to ward off her opponent, Jennifer Scott, who already knocked her out ten months earlier in her only bout.
Every member in the audience knows she doesn’t stand a chance at victory.
As the action starts, some place their heads in their hands, others simply turn away. Those who dare to watch witness a right send Mayfield’s head through the ropes.
She spits out her mouthpiece, she doesn’t want to fight. This was obvious before the match even started, someone sane should have prevented it in the first place. But this is boxing, where sanity gives way to greed. A young woman could have been killed, over a few hundred bucks. Is it really worth it?
Steve Collins is a nice guy, a blue collar worker who boxes. Most importantly, he is a white American heavyweight, who if successful, could send dollar signs spinning through promoter Lou Savarese’s eyes.
Through six dreary rounds, Collins fought in spurts against lackadaisical Roderick Willis (14-6-1, 8 KO), who had boasted before the bout, “Steve Collins better be in shape!” After the bout, one wondered why he said such a thing, because he was not in condition, and threw less punches than even Mayfield. If one needed a cure to sleep deprivation, this was it. Collins (22-1, 15 KO) won on all cards, 60-54, but his heavyweight dreams are probably no further then they were before the match, but he will keep trying, because the payoff, if achieved, is too good to not try.
Tyrone “Solja Black” Selders (2-0, 2 KO) trained so hard for his bout against Cardamon Harper (0-4), but looking back it was in vain, because the first grazing punch, grazing being a generous term, sent Harper for the count. The crowd knew it was going to be a cakewalk, but this was over the top, catcalls and boos hissed abound. Sixty-three seconds, at least he lasted a minute, if that matters. Perhaps his new nickname can be “One Minute Man.”
Angel “El Gallo” Herrera is a huge man, but not entirely muscular. His stomach hangs over his trunks, one wonders how much training he actually does, but he comes to fight hard and has a vocal following. Justin Jones is a former Golden Gloves champion, whose career has not skyrocketed like he wanted. A failed promotional deal has sent him to the club circuit, where he routinely beats up guys like Herrera, but sometimes struggles with them as well, like Homero Fonseca.
It was a sad comedy: Herrera (6-4-3, 1 KO) didn’t have much skill, Jones (6-0-1, 3 KO) did but didn’t use it much. He is a poor man’s James Toney, using the shoulder roll to counter, but no punch was going to send Herrera down. So he settled for a decision victory, 40-36 on all cards.
Douglas Robertson’s nickname is “Preacher Man.” Hopefully, he prays for his health before bouts, because his record is alarmingly horrendous, even for a journeyman: three victories, twenty-two defeats, no victory since the economy was booming.
Fred Allen (4-0, 4 KO) felt no sympathy for Robertson (3-23-2), and in a way let him out of his misery, as he blasted the taller man out in fifty seconds. Robertson’s face hung through the ropes as the referee stopped it. If anyone was happy with the night’s proceedings, it was the referees, who got to go home early without having to do much exercise.
Miguel Flores is a hero in disguise. His brother Benjamin was killed April 30, while boxing. Yet here was Flores, walking into a boxing ring, the same place where his brother lost his life, where he lost a brother, his parents lost a son.
Boxers have a burning desire that blocks out red flags. A normal person would not engage in an activity that could cause serious long term health effects, and even death. Maybe it’s the adoring fans, the money, the pride of being champion, but in its essence, it’s really quite simple: “They like to fight,” grumbles a manager sitting at ringside. That makes sense in a way, better they fight legally than on the streets with the police chasing behind them.
Julio Valadez has lost eight of his last nine bouts, he is in shape but is here to get beaten up. Flores (4-0, 3 KO) answers the call, and pounds Valadez (3-9) for four rounds. The scores are academic: 40-35.
Skip Scott’s hands are gargantuan, they make gloves look like oven mitts. He looks like an athlete, his body is strong and muscular, and he is coordinated. But he appears new to the art of boxing. And new boxers are usually tentative in the ring, fearing what is coming their way.
For boxing is hard, you stand in front of someone who is attempting to hurt you, cause brain damage, break your nose, knock you unconscious. So sometimes, it is not beautiful to watch, because the boxer does not want to get hurt, but unfortunately, that is the opposite of what fans who part with their hard earned money to watch want.
Chris Abercrombie stands across the ring. A brawler with not much skill but a huge heart and tremendous courage. It is unclear why he chooses to box, because when Scott chooses to punch, he pummels Abercrombie’s face with looping punches from his lumbering frame. Scott (6-1, 4 KO) could make it so much easier if he simply threw a jab, but he is smarter than we think, because he wins without taking punishment. If Abercrombie (1-1) doesn’t throw punches, he won’t either, until it’s ultimately necessary to win the round with a small flurry. That may not make him a great boxer, but might in itself get him out of boxing with his brain intact.
Overall, the Texas State Commission should be embarrassed. Lou Savarese, a nice guy and sophisticated promoter, wants to build his stable up, understandably. But the commission’s interest is the health of the boxers. On this night, not a single opponent had a chance to win, it was the equivalent of a local wrestler being thrown in the ring against Hulk Hogan, the audience didn’t even need a script to know what was going to happen. These boxers should all be suspended for life, for their own good and to save them from themselves. They don’t know any better.
This leads to a more disturbing issue. Shooters’ Gym of Texarkana, Texas, provided all the opponents for the night except Willis. Each Shooters boxer was either quickly knocked out or beaten badly over the distance. A reasonable estimate is that they collect 30% of the boxer’s purse. The old man and lady who brought the fighters looked like a nice couple, but in truth were more like characters of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though the boxers of age to make their own decisions, they were most likely vulnerable young adults, in need of help but instead have been led into having their brains beaten in, and for what? If, at the minimum, they had put up a good show, perhaps their appearance could have been justified, but the fans weren’t even entertained, they were disgusted because they had spent their hard earned money expecting competitive matches.
This type of night serves no purpose. It robs the fans of their money and expectations, risks the health of opposition “boxers” who should be in some other line of work, and fattens the wallets of con men like Shooters’ Gym.
The state commission made a laudable decision to not license disgraced Antonio Margarito of Mexico recently, but could do more on a larger scale by stopping nights of mismatches.
After his match, Abercrombie stated “I guess everyone here (opponent locker room) lost, huh?” He looked like he almost wanted to laugh, but it wasn’t funny, just sad, a revealing look into the dark underworld of club show boxing.
Questions or comments,
e-mail Vikram at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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