By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Rather than hopping a flight to Las Vegas to take in the dueling fight cards first hand, or surreptitiously adding “cable” to the list of bills at the friend’s house where I’m staying these days… I decided to use good old technology to get me through a busy stretch last weekend.
And while it wasn’t intended as an experiment, it turned out to be a good one.
My wife and son were in town for a 40-plus hour stretch beginning Friday evening, which meant actually sitting down to a live Internet feed of the HBO show on Saturday night – because let’s face it, everyone knew the Showtime main event was a farce, right? – wasn’t an option.
But after saying goodbye to the family around 4 p.m. Sunday, it was officially time to plug in, grab a generically-labeled YouTube link to Chavez-Martinez and watch it “live” without having found out which guy had won in the intervening three quarters of a day.
Luckily for me, though, it was not to be.
Oh sure, I found the link easy enough and successfully clicked on it – just as I’d planned – without the slightest idea how things had gone at the Thomas & Mack Center the night before.
Problem was, because the hotspot signal generated by my suddenly old-news iPhone4 (thanks a lot, Apple) came in at something less than industrial strength, my visions of a smooth transmission from bell to bell on the laptop was instead a maddening series of buffering starts, stops and restarts.
When the instructions from Tony Weeks and the first 60 seconds of round one clocked in at more than 5 minutes, I’d officially had it. The computer went to the rug with a thud, leaving me to experiment with the phone and the built-in YouTube app, which, I surmised, would provide a more user-friendly stream simply by removing the middle man.
I searched for the phrase “Chavez-Martinez” through a small gap between my fingers that was designed to keep me from unintentionally seeing any links whose label would give away the result.
I clicked the first one I saw, sat back and waited for the fight of the year.
What I got was a little bit less.
Upon spying the screen and seeing the number “12” at the bottom, I instantly knew the first 11/12ths of my plan had been foiled. And upon hearing Max Kellerman ask whether Chavez’s surge in the previous round had given him something from which to salvage the event, any lingering mystery was gone.
Add in the fact that I’d loudly gone public for Junior, and my mood was predictably glum.
For about a minute, that is.
A couple right hands and a crunching left hook later, and my upset-seeking heart was nearly thudding through my ribcage. When Martinez crashed from the ropes to the floor, I was certain he’d not last the final 90 seconds. And as the clock ticked down with Chavez in vainly hot pursuit, I was so lost in the moment that I’d completely forgotten the fight had actually ended a night before.
It didn’t end the way I wanted, but it was still cool enough to make it worthwhile.
At least for me, it was.
For boxing, I’m not quite so sure.
Because the more I thought about it, the worse it seemed that I could go an entire day – a part of which was spent watching professional sports on network TV – without any indication of what had happened in arguably the second-most anticipated fight of the year behind Mayweather-Cotto in May.
I had Major League Baseball scores. I had Premier League soccer scores.
Heck, I even had WNBA scores.
Not a single word was mentioned about a significant championship match on the premier cable broadcaster in the boxing capital of the world. When not that long ago, it would have been an undisputed lead item before anything with the words Liberty, Mystics and Shock.
It was another bit of evidence to illustrate the sport’s long slide into irrelevance.
But given the option of a chubby 5-10 girl taking set shots… maybe irrelevance ain’t so bad.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF super flyweight title – Los Mochis, Mexico
Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. (champion) vs. Rodel Mayol (unranked)
Sanchez Jr. (14-1-1, 7 KO): Second title defense; One stoppage in last seven fights (7-0, 1 KO)
Mayol (31-5-2, 22 KO): Eighth title fight (1-4-2); Held WBC title at 108 (2009-10, one defense)
Fitzbitz says: “Filipino may show some life against foe who’s a decade younger, but he’ll eventually succumb in ninth championship-level opportunity.” Sanchez by decision
IBO strawweight title – Kempton Park, South Africa
Hekkie Budler (champion) vs. Florante Condes (No. 11 contender)
Budler (20-1, 6 KO): First title defense; Held IBO title at 108 (2010-11, one defense)
Condes (25-6-1, 21 KO): Third title fight (1-1); Held IBF title at 105 (2007-08, zero defenses)
Fitzbitz says: “Condes has fallen just short on the highest level in the last few years, and traveling to the incumbent’s backyard this time won’t help matters.” Budler by decision
WBC cruiserweight title – Wroclaw, Poland
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (champion) vs. Francisco Palacios (No. 1 contender)
Wlodarczyk (46-2-1, 33 KO): Fourth title defense; Held IBF belt at 200 (2006-07, zero defenses)
Palacios (21-1, 13 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Lost split decision to Wlodarczyk (SD 12) in 2011
Fitzbitz says: “Challenger back for another shot at age 35, but he doesn’t figure to escape the same scoring issues that dogged him in the initial trip to champion’s home turf.” Wlodarczyk by decision
WBO lightweight title – Glasgow, Scotland
Ricky Burns (champion) vs. Kevin Mitchell (No. 2 contender)
Burns (34-2, 9 KO): Second title defense; Held WBO belt at 130 (2010-11, three defenses)
Mitchell (33-1, 24 KO): First title fight; Third fight in Scotland (2-0, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “England’s Mitchell has bounced back nicely from thudding loss to Katsidis, but a Scottish incumbent in a Scottish venue will be too tough to overcome.” Burns by decision
Last week's picks: 5-2
Overall picks record: 336-115 (74.5 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.