Four days before champions Andre Ward and Chad Dawson met in the ring, they held a media day at Kings Gym in Oakland, California. The gym sits like a graying general at the end of a dead- end street. Kings Boxing Gym is painted on its side in bold black letters.
inside the gym, the place comes alive. To the right of the entrance is
the office of the owners, Celeste and Charles King. Charles has been
involved in boxing most of his life. Many ring legends including
Frazier, Foreman, Duran, and Chavez have worked out at Kings. Classic
fight posters from a bygone era fill the walls. The sounds of the fight
game echo throughout. A whispery rhythm is a fighter jumping rope. A
rat-tat-tat is another working the speed bag. The heavy bag swaying and
groaning as it absorbs punishment. A big empty ring stands ready for
Andre Ward was the first to enter that day dressed
casually in a black track suit. He answered each question in full. I
can’t help but think back to the first time I interviewed him at Kings,
two weeks before he fought Mikeel Kessler in 2009. He showed patience as
I fumbled through my questions. What a good person.
pundits were picking Kessler to beat him. I had already decided he would
win. I was even more convinced after our interview.
Ward has an
edge that says, ‘I won’t lose.’ His focus astounded me. He’s strong
inside and out. He’s confident but not cocky. He knows he will win.
Dawson arrived a few minutes after Ward left. He was wearing a blue
baseball cap and sits between his trainer and promoter. Dawson, like
Ward, is loaded with natural ability. But, he lacks that edge.
“It’s the eye of tiger man,” said Apollo Creed to Rocky, “Eye of the tiger.”
hour before Ward and Dawson battled, Antonio DeMarco defended his
lightweight title against John Molinia. DeMarco’s first round
anihilation shocked the Oakland crowd. Molina, from my hometown of
Covina, Ca. came out like he always does, aggressively. Near the
forty-second mark, DeMarco connected with a heavy left on Molina’s chin,
sending the challenger stumbling to the corner.
As the crowd
ooed and ahhed, the champion went after his dazed opponent, pounding him
with lefts and rights. Molina fired a few bombs of his own, hoping one
could change the likely outcome, but alas, he was soon sitting on the
bottom rope catching punches. For Molina his bid for a championship was
over in less then a minute. For DeMarco it’s, ‘up up and away.’
10th round TKO victory over Dawson resembled a country whipping. Ward
breaks guys down, and beats them up. The first two rounds were close.
After Ward figured out the rhythm of Dawson’s punches, the fight was
“Chad has fast legs, but not fast hands,” said Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter. “It was just a matter of Andre timing him.”
embrace of Ward and Hunter, after the fight had ended, was much more
then a typical trainer – fighter hug. The love between the two men is
During the second
and last episode of HBO’s “24/7: Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez,” the training
methods of both fighters were shown. Martinez appears to be in great
shape. His sparring sessions sizzle. Martinez, 37, uses a hyperbaric
chamber to fight off father time. He spends an hour a day in the
makeshift tomb. The sight made me mutter something about claustrophobia.
Jr. spends most of his time at his rented home in Vegas. He’s
nocturnal, (Martinez does all his work during the day) and prefers
training at night. Trainer Freddie Roach is flabbergasted. I’ve always
thought the trainer set the schedule, not the other way around. Roach
looks lonely as he waits for Chavez Jr. to show up. He reminds me of a
man waiting for chronically late bus. A million dollar bus that is. The
contrast is shocking. Martinez is rock solid and ready, while Chavez Jr.
does what he feels like. Admittedly, when he works, he works hard.
the night owl be able to defeat Mr. Senor light? The edge has to go to
Martinez, but if Chavez Jr. can hang around, you never know.
was thrilled to read that a Las Vegas real estate investor had
purchased Muhammad Ali’s boyhood home in Louisville, Kentucky. The new
owner is a big fan of Ali, and plans to restore the home to way it
looked when the future champ lived in it.
There is a boxing god after all.
Until next time...
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