It’s no secret that I’m a boxing fan. I won’t claim to be the world’s biggest fan, in fact I think I know them, but it would be an understatement to say the sweet science takes up too much of my spare time.
Remember as a kid when your dad would take you to a rugby league game but you would get there four hours before kick-off and he would sit and watch every second of the Harold Mathews Cup, Jersey Flegg and Reserve Grade just for his love of the game?
I’ve become like my dad in that regard, but with boxing. When I lived in Sydney I would go to Paul Nasari’s fight nights at Club Punchbowl, amateur nights at Sutherland PCYC and South’s Juniors. I’d watch Friday night fights, Super Six, Boxcino and any PPV that was on, and yes, I also watched every season of The Contender.
Now I live in LA and can attend PBC events, Golden Boy Promotions LA fight nights, Uni Mas Boxeo nights, ESPN Friday night fights (RIP), and any PPV I can afford the flights and accommodation for, and all of that is before the local fights are considered.
When I found out I had the opportunity to not just cover the Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao fight, but attend live from the venue, the weigh-in, the press conference and the fight, I couldn’t contain myself. I remember texting just about every fight fan I knew and ringing my parents to tell them it was happening.
As the night approached, I’d never seen Vegas so packed and electric. Talking with lifelong Mayweather fans brought hope that we might see the return of the Floyd that beat Diego Corrales.
Meeting all the Pacquiao fans made me think of every Filipino man and woman I’d shared a drink with at Narwee Hotel while Manny proved his worth beating the likes of Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and many others.
On the night I started getting messages from friends and family back home telling me how proud they were and how much they wished they could be there. I still get shivers thinking about it.
If you follow my Twitter you would know I’ve always had a soft spot for Zab Judah. I got the chance to meet him and talk past fights and predictions.
One of my greatest conversations must have been one of Zab’s worst as I spent most of it in shock and awe that I was actually hanging out with him.
Among the plethora of celebrity and boxing greats there, I was lucky enough to meet a large number of the current crop of stars like Deontay Wilder, Andre Ward and Danny Garcia.
Having been critical of Danby in the past, I must say he and his father Angel were two of the nicest and funniest people I had the opportunity to spend time with. They also loved that an Australian knew them and told me how they love the people and plan to visit.
During the fight I was fortunate enough to share small talk with future Hall of Famers Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez. It was a surreal night that often times left me speechless in front of these men I used to idolise.
The hype and occasion itself was the most intense event I’ve ever experienced. There were people from all over the world, in the right mood, vocal, excited and ready for the fight of the century.
As the fight started and Manny pushed forward, everyone thought the Manny of old had arrived. When Mayweather lined Pacquiao up and threw a big right in the second, there wasn’t a soul in the building who didn’t think both fighters might actually, against all logic and prediction, go to war.
It brought back memories of the feeling I got the first time I watch Hagler versus Hearns or Gatti versus Ward. I couldn’t contain my excitement and thought how wrong I was to write an article about how formulaic this fight would be and why people wouldn’t want to watch it.
However, as the fight went on, it became clear that I was justified in writing that piece. Mayweather is the best technician of his generation and schooled Pacquiao in the finer points of boxing.
Personally, I was happy with the result. Mayweather proved his worth and brought boxing back into the mainstream.
With the amount of talent coming through right now, in all weight divisions, it was perfect timing for the public to get interested in boxing again.
It might not have been The War of this generation, it might not have been the fight of the century, but it was definitely my night of the century.