(Atlantic City, NJ): If ever an actual movie for “The Walking Dead” is made, film crews need to look no further than this wretched stretch of the Jersey Shore for extras. When pigeons, the rats of the sky, are forced to fly away when what appears to be a homeless man unleashes hell by simply taking off his shoes at a bus stop, you know the coastal confines are grim.
“Yo, you know where The Boardwalk is?” asks this same man of me, in front of the Popeyes on Atlantic Ave in this hell hole of assorted misery. He sees the media badge dangling around my neck and informs me that he's going to the fight. I could've assumed (but I had to ask) he wasn't there to cheer on former WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer (24-1, 11KOs), rather, new unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields (9-0, 2KOs).
“Charles” has taken a Greyhound all the way from Saginaw, MI to, in his words, “witness me some motherf***** history.” I ask him if he came alone. He didn't. He needed a few beers and knew he'd only be able to get one inside of the arena. Who am I to not buy him a beer and a new pair of socks?
I think he's a huge reason she won the fight and I'll tell you why in a minute.
When I get to “The Boardwalk”, which is more of an abandoned museum than an arena, I spot my boy, NJ based lawyer and fight game chronicler Daniel Gonzalez at the concessions. He'll be seated next to me during ring action and glad for that. New upstart PBC writer and a kid who looks up to me, Hans Themistone, is adjacent on my left. He has issues with the size of the turnout and with the venue, which looks like an indoor version of fuckin Soldier Field in Chicago during the time of the '85 Bears. I explain to him that we're in a scant section of media, on the opposite side of where 3/4's of the crowd will be.
But not only will SHOWTIME make the arena and crowd look larger than life (because that's what TV does), but because the ceiling is as high as Shield's career prospects, the acoustics will be amazing for crowd noise on camera. He's good with that. It's good to meet boxing writer Jimmy Ayash, as Radio Raheem with SecondsOut and FightHype is directly behind me. It's always good to see my boy, David Yi, who actually has an outfit called Fight Chronicles; and, of course, NY Fights editor-in-chief Michael Woods is in the house, fresh off the call for Fight Night Live with homie and partner “X”, Xavier Porter.
We here to witness us some mother f***** history too.
After a really good heavyweight scrap featuring Jermaine Frankin Vs Rydell Booker (both from Michigan), we witness Shields Vs 🔨. I'm going to spare you the details because you already know what happened. Outside of her ringwalk entrance (which was hot, the “All The Way Up” track suited her hidden black girl), Hammer nailed herself in routine, as a corny version of an estrogen laden Thor from Germany; while Shields went all the way in as an urban black, hood fashioned femme fatale Captain America, later posing in a pink men's suit calling out Cecilia Braekhus.
“Sometimes shit happens,” is how the former WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer (24-1, 11KOs) …
…summed things up, following a 10 round mugging at the hands of her mocked “T-Rex”. She should know it will happen again if some adjustments aren't made right away.
She stepped in some serious shit the other night with no shoes on, and it won't be as simple as throwing the socks away and having a few premium beers before going back to the routine. In her case, routine is the enemy. My main man Abraham Gonzalez, our west coast aficionado originally from the place where I do battle daily, Gotham, sent me a text that lead to a memorable exchange. Here's how it went down.
📟 📟 📟
ABE: And 🔨 being too straight up and down as I mentioned to you earlier hurt her…she wasn't dictating the fight with her jab as she has often done…she was done after getting hit with the first punch in round 1
GAT: Well no 😉. Her problem was threefold: a lack of an inside game, predictable patterns, and a “black” corner. She was very tough; Christina was never going to quit or in danger of being stopped, but she was bothered by the crowd. I think she needed a black trainer.
ABE: 😂😂😂😂 no doubt…yea…also, there wasn't enough in there to demand a rematch.
GAT: Well, the public didn't demand this fight in the first place. The presiders over Women's Boxing and the excellent matchmaking did. If her confidence isn't shaken to the core (Hammer was more embarassed than nailed), then she can be repaired. I'd have her start watching “Good Times”, put her in the kitchen with Florida…
..and have her go shopping with Thelma. Then, she'd start being stared at by Nazim Richardson. Two or three wins under that situation before seeing Shields again and we have a totally different fight. Its one thing to have a great jab– that ain't going nowhere with her; but the idea of that shot is what else it sets up in the arsenal, and there was nothing. It’s like having 🍞 without butter, 🍶,🧀 , 🍎 or water. I'd demote her corner and restructure her team. Christina Hammer is far more talented than she showed.
ABE: Your 100% right…she would absolutely need that..think she needs to be here in the U.S…get that proper sparring too…spend some time in those dingy Cali gyms where there are Mexican savages waiting to give her a lesson
GAT: Exactly. And it was so interesting to observe the dichotomy of the promotional tour victor and the actual victor. Claressa was really undone in many ways by the cultural shock of being subjected to so many white people during the promotion. Christina knew that and fed off the energy. But that all went out of the window on fight night, when she heard the voices of none of those executives; only hardcore black folks from Michigan and surounding parts were hooting and hollering. You heard what she told me about getting tired late against Tori Nelson, right? She more or less told me she was bothered by the crowd, which means she needed someone from [that crowd] in her corner. This fight, to me, was a classic case of cultural imbalance.
ABE: Man, no truer words could have been said…Gatman is on 🔥🔥
GAT: There's some Evian water in the fridge to put me out (lol), but people would be the polar opposite of that word, “Naive”, if they didn't believe that. There were a few rounds Claressa won that she was losing, before stealing them due to crowd support and a competent black trainer. I completely missed that in the prefight analysis, but it showed up in the fight. The next time Hammer comes to New York, she's better off eating at Sylvia's than Gallagher's Steakhouse. Sometimes it comes down to a bowl of grits.
Abe: The Gatman… sharp as ever. Yea, real facts right there.