Music fans of a certain age may remember Jon Landau.
He was a rock critic in Boston who caught a concert at a local venue in the early 1970s and essentially launched the career of a then-struggling New Jersey singer/songwriter named Bruce Springsteen with the following turn of phrase in a review:
"I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time."
Of course, I'll never claim to have Landau's gift for writing, nor his obvious prescience. Though, 21 in-person Springsteen concerts later, I certainly can understand what he saw in the guy.
And I'll concede – as I drove away from a Saturday night spent at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami – to having felt a similar jolt of professional enthusiasm, long before a walkover Canelo Alvarez main event.
But it wasn’t due to the efforts of any one fighter.
Rather, a handful of the principals in the seven undercard bouts leading to anticlimactic finale.
So, in honor of Landau, here's my boxing-tinged translation of his musical masterpiece...
I saw boxing future and its name is Keyshawn Davis.
And Marc Castro.
And Diego Pacheco.
And on a night when I needed to feel young, they made me feel like I was watching fights for the very first time.
When they’re combined 12 rounds against the surely overmatched, but at least somewhat capable Lester Brown, John Moraga and Rodolfo Gomez Jr. ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good? Can anyone say this much to me so soon? Can lightweights, super featherweights and super middleweights still perform with this kind of power and glory?
And then I glanced at the notes that I'd made and knew that the answer was yes.
Davis, for one, does it all. He is a boxer, a puncher, a bully, a tough guy, a humble technician, a gritty dog, and a truly great all-around performer considering he’s now had precisely one pro fight.
He works a ring like he has been doing it forever. I racked my brains but simply can’t think of a recent 135-pounder who did so many things so superbly so soon after the opening bell of a career.
Simply put, there is no one whose progress I would rather watch in the weight class today.
Castro, meanwhile, made it clear from the start of his ring walk that he was in Miami to both perform and punish. He used footwork and movement while establishing his jab and working the body, all the while looking as calm as if he were in a routine sparring match -- not in his second career fight on a live-streamed production featuring the sport’s most recognizable commodity.
Combinations began flowing and Moraga was on the floor within a half-minute, a trend that continued throughout the first and into the second as the Californian landed more frequently and more powerfully.
Finally, a still-teenage Pacheco may have taken the most pivotal career step of the night, graduating to eight rounds, and maintaining momentum even as the gutty Gomez produced a competitive push beyond anything mustered by 10 previous opponents who’d combined to provide 24 total rounds.
The East L.A. native is no wonder to look at. Gangly, and barely looking old enough to drive – let alone his almost 20 years (the birthday cake arrives next Monday) – he nevertheless patrols the ring with the presence of a decade-long veteran, not a relative novice in his 11th fight after turning pro at 17.
Every jab and cross adds to an ultimate goal — to dominate with his own brand of precise violence.
Many try to leave a mark. Few succeed. And none more recently on the prelim level than this trio.
And let’s not forget – though his foe was an unmitigated disaster – just how good Alvarez is, too.
He’s earned consensus billing as the world’s top fighter for a reason that extends far beyond the prolonged promotional boost he’s gotten from the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and, now, Eddie Hearn.
A mere 15 when he started in 2005, the precocious Mexican icon was a champion by 20, shared the marquee for one of history’s biggest pay-per-views at 23, and has since chased greatness across multiple weight classes while developing a skillset that’s begun to attract all-time praise from those who’d know.
“Far more cosmic and multi-talented than I at first envisioned,” said Jim Lampley, who called a handful of Alvarez’s fights for HBO. “But his kind of intelligence shows up more and more over time.
“And you can say exactly the same thing in exactly the same terms about Eddy Reynoso. Chicken/egg. Both about as good as it gets.
“Counterpuncher by origin nature becomes indomitable attacker when he wants to be? Fewer than a dozen in history of boxing. A superstar with epic historic impact.”
It’s Monday evening now and I’m watching a replay and my memory of the fights have made me feel a little giddy. I still feel the spirit and it still moves me.
Last Saturday, I remembered that the magic still exists and as long as I write about boxing, my mission is to tell a stranger about it — just as long as I remember that I’m the stranger I’m writing for.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
No title fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 1-1 (WIN: Alvarez; LOSS: Taduran)
2021 picks record: 4-2 (66.7 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,160-377 (75.5 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.