I didn’t expect to like it, and I certainly have no knowledge of boxing as a sport, but I actually had a pretty good time. Mel loved it. There were seven or eight different bouts, and several were televised on ESPN2 along with the main event.
We had decent seats. We could see fairly well but it would have been nice to have binoculars. We drank beer and ate popcorn. There were very few women there and you could practically smell the testosterone. Or was that just a mixture of really bad after-shave?
The fights that were broadcast on ESPN2 were also shown on the “Jumbotron”, an eight-sided scoreboard console that hangs from the ceiling above the ring. The four ‘corners’ are used for sponsorship advertising and the four inset side panels with wider screens are for video feeds. It’s weird how hard it was not to watch the video of the fight instead of the fight itself. Better angles on the video I guess, since we could only see from one side. It did seem silly to be watching the video screen though.
During one fight some guy from Atlanta knocked out a local kid. He stayed down for quite a while, surrounded by his “seconds” and ring officials. While everyone waited to see if he would get up, my eyes wandered to the advertising flashing on the Jumbotron. I had to chuckle at the ad for a local personal injury law firm that sponsored the fights: “INJURED? Call 555-1234” It seemed like the kid lying on the floor of the ring sure needed them! He was okay though.
Between rounds, local gals from “men’s entertainment establishments” wearing slinky outfits would prance around the ring holding up large “Round X” posters, so you knew what round was coming up. That was some high entertainment in itself.
The introduction to main event was very flashy and exciting… Buffalo style. First, the contender, Robert Davis, marched out to his side of the ring with his entourage. He strutted, danced almost, around the ring to some rap song. He was soundly booed by the entire audience. Davis then hung off the ring ropes and bounced up and down on them during the entire Baby Joe Mesi entrance. In comparison, Davis’ entrance hadn’t been anything special.
The lights went out, the spotlights were turned on, the music was turned up and… wait, am I at a rock concert?
At one end of the arena, an enormous curtain backdrop was lowered to reveal a second level entrance. (Seats hadn’t been sold on this end of the arena in order to set a stage for Mesi’s grand entrance.) There was a sheer curtain over the entrance and you could see Mesi through it, doing his dance of boxing moves. Four or five fire jets on either side of the entrance were music coordinated to shoot bursts of flames high into the air. Finally, the sheer curtain was pulled aside while the fire jets shot sprinkler-like fireworks and Mesi, wearing baby blue satin, pranced down this long flight of stairs to the floor of the arena and then across the floor into the ring.
Mel and I laughed through the whole thing. What a hoot. It was sooo Buffalo. Of course, the crowd was in a frenzy and it must have looked great on ESPN2. I don’t think they showed the actual grand entrance that was orchestrated for the Buffalo fans, they probably just showed crowd shots.
The fight started right away… and ended one minute and twenty seconds later when Mesi knocked out Davis with a punch to the jaw. Holy shit. Everyone went wild. Based on the comments we heard around us, many folks, including us, were just a little bit disappointed the fight was so short. Like, couldn’t they have gone four or five rounds and then ended it? Sheesh.
Postscript: While writing this, I figured out one of the major reasons I enjoyed the fights more than I expected to. Believe it or not, it was the booing. I thought it was hysterical. I’ve never been to a live sporting event where it’s been so acceptable to boo someone. Even at NFL games in our local stadium booing can get you in big trouble because you never know when you’re sitting next to a fan of the opposing team, not to mention that they usually travel in groups. Yep, it was definitely the booing.