Saturday, June 14, 2008

ESPN Friday Night Fights: Boxing Returns to Scranton

Irish boxer James Moore lands a right hand in sparring session in Stroudsburg. Moore was training for a fight at Fernwood Resort; he stopped in to get a bit of work in one of our local boxing gyms.

Professional boxing returned to Scranton, PA last night and I hope the successful event, televised by ESPN, becomes the obsession it was “back in the day.” The matchmakers put together a good card and that’s a good thing for our part of the Northeast where fight fans are very sophisticated and remember the classic matchups of old. Boxing was always popular in the coal regions with their various ethnicities, and former Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes got his early victories in the Catholic Youth Center where the event was held last night. I’d been to Scranton for previous pro fights and wasn’t disappointed. The renowned and ebullient Lou Duva is an old Lackwanna Valley boy and he was at ringside. ESPN’s Teddy Atlas did the commentary and pre-fight hoopla. I’ve got to hand it to that guy—his scorecard seems always to get it right or so close that you won’t whine about it.

I missed the fight two weeks ago in which Irish James Moore (15-0) lost to an underdog (King Rosado) in the Hard Rock CafĂ© of New York. I need to see that. Moore’s one of my favorite guys; he’s amiable, well schooled, with a long amateur record. Big controversy in that loss—Teddy Atlas made some critical remarks about the outcome. So did a lot of other people. Without seeing the fight, I couldn't say but somebody on the internet described Moore as a "goofy white kid who looks like he should be a computer programmer, not a boxer." Yeah, so much for looks. I've seen the guy fight three or four times. Most of his opponents fall down. Kelly Pavlik looks like he might be a computer programmer, too. Both these guys would probably re-program the internet critic's head in about a nanosecond(that's a nerd word for the critic).

I love ESPN2. They’re not the big money PPVs but so many times that’s disappointing. I like to see the regular people, the up and comers. It’s often a lot more interesting and many of the fighters on the way up are willing to risk everything. Patrick Lopez and Joaquin Gallardo…got to give those guys their props….both took the fights on short notice. Gallardo is from Oakland, CA—that boy doesn’t have a stop switch. Lopez was stronger; he was something of a big name in the amateurs. He had no quit in him either. You needed fast eyes to watch. Maybe a raincoat and an umbrella if you were sitting in the first row.

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