Saturday, September 19, 2009

Boxing at the movies

For those of you who don't know, the undefeated Welterweight professional boxer (now 40-0) Floyd Mayweather Jr. made his return tonight to fight Juan Manuel Marquez, who was moving up from Lightweight (135 pounds) two weight classes to take the fight. Like most big boxing fights Mayweather/Marquez is available via pay per view, and if your a boxing fan you either

A. Fork up the PPV price, which is $49.99.
B. Don't buy the fight, and catch the replay a week later on HBO.
C. Stream it illegally or
D. See it at a movie theater for $15

Wait what was that last option? I can see the fight, and not have to pay PPV price? Count me in. And that's what I did.

We arrived at Concord Mills a quarter after 8, to find the event completely SOLD OUT. That would be bad news for most people, except I already purchased my tickets 3 or 4 weeks in advance. And to think, in the state where NASCAR, drinking and tattoos rule, a boxing event was sold out. Extra tickets were even being sold at 8:30 PM and I had to get another for our third amigo.

As for the actual event, it kicked off right at 9 PM, much like a usual HBO telecast with shots of the Vegas strip followed by the camera going right into a Jim Lampley pre fight babble. This babble didn't seem particularly long as maybe five minutes later a cut to the ring for the first fight of the night at 126 pounds between two featherweights Cornelius Lock and the undefeated Orlando Cruz. The action was fast paced and got the crowd going, especially with the help of a Lock first round knockdown. Lock would strike again in the 5th, where he would win the fight by knockout. Cruz did get up, however the ref saw him as unfit to continue.

Not even 10 minutes later the next fight, a Lightweight clash for the WBO interim title between Michael Katsidis and Vincente Escobedo. This fight would go to a 12 round Split decision won by Katsidis. I found it shocking that Escobedo got even one judge to see the fight his way, as most outside observers, as well as HBO's commentators saw the more active and aggressive Katsidis winning a majority of the rounds.

Five minutes later we're back in the ring for the Co-feature: a Featherweight rematch between WBA champion Chris John vs Rocky Juarez. The Champion John had his rough moments in the last round of the fight, but managed to hang on and win a clear but close (one scorecard had John by a point) unanimous decision.

Understandably their was a bit of kill time after the Co-feature, to hype up the main event and sing the Mexican and US national anthem. As for the fight itself, minus a second round Mayweather knockdown, Floyd coasted to an easy win, with the most rounds he lost being two. I feel as many others do Mayweather needs a more legit match up, someone who can push him. WBA welterweight champion Shane Mosley, WBO Welterweight champion Miguel Cotto or even current pound for pound #1 Manny Pacquiao fit the bill. The last two names mentioned, Cotto and Pacquiao are set to fight November 14th.

a recap of my experience

the likes
#1. A nice big screen, movie theater quality, not to mention a fan friendly $15 price. If the theater I went to was any indication of how this movie theater idea would do in the rest of the U.S. I'd have to say it was a big hit. Reason being, it was sold out. Picture the typical crowded movie premiere and tonight was no different, just boxing instead of a movie.

Going into buying tickets to this I really felt I'd be one of 15 boxing freaks sitting in a near empty theater. This was not the case tonight as people could be seen standing on the sides of the aisles. Not because they were so amped up (maybe they were) but because all the seats in the theater were taken. My second comment hits on a more personal note (if you watch boxing)

#2. If you've watched boxing on HBO before, most of the time, the fights do not start right away. Instead, we'll get a breakdown of the fight, some background info on each fighter, followed by fighter interviews, a career highlight or two, and maybe another interview before the long drawn out ring walks, introductions, and then the fight.

To give you an example, take the Mikkel Kessler-Joe Calzaghe fight, which happened in 2007. The fight had a TV start time of 10 PM. Thirty minutes into the broadcast we're hearing the Danish National anthem. This exactly what I mean by kill time, I am all for hyping something up, but I think anyone would be agonized sitting around thirty minutes waiting for a fight. Tonight's card didn't have nearly as much kill time, and as a boxing fan is something I appreciate. The Jim Lampley introduction only took maybe five minutes if that, and after, we're right in the ring for the first bout.

As for the second bout, it also had five minutes kill time to transition to the Co-feature. Granted the main event had its usual pre hype build up, and their was probably a good twenty minutes before both fighters squared off, but I tip my cap to HBO for lessening the kill time and cutting to the chase.

as for the dislikes
#1. The only thing I can really say is that the main event played out to be a mismatch where the larger Mayweather never looked troubled and easily cruised his way to winning a decision. The fight might not have been the most competitive and thrilling, but at the same time, if I were to tell you every movie I'd gone to had met my expectations it would be a bold faced lie. Understandably people view sporting events to be entertained. Be it a basketball, football or soccer game, the same logic would apply to going to the theaters. Whether your a boxing fan or movie buff anyone can appreciate good entertainment. The main event didn't live up to the hype, so what?

It wasn't the only fight on the card, and more importantly you didn't pay anywhere close to the pay-per-view retail cost. Looking at it like that, with comparing the one negative to the two positives and it's a win win situation.

As I can say for a fact, all things considered, even with a sub par main event, I was much happier having seen it at the theaters for $15 then had I bought it on PPV and stayed at home.