GUNNER GATLING PRESENTS: Kiss of Death
Hers was a mixture of death and eternity.
Just outside of the fighter dressing rooms at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 4, with a clear visual of the ring to witness Andrjez Fonfara V Chad Dawson, I stood suspended, flanked by the editor of NY Fights, Michael Woods, while engaged in discussion with Gerry Cooney.
But I'm too distracted to get a unique perspective from Cooney about his epic, 1982 racially charged encounter with Larry Holmes.
WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith “One-Time” Thurman has entered the building in a funeral black suit, and appears an angry stoic just behind me. He seems uninterested in Fonfara's 10th round bludgeoning of Dawson and doesn't speak; rather, he's processing the path to the ring to face Danny “Swift” Garcia. I picked Danny to win by late TKO and he knows it.
It's a little awkward.
Just moments earlier, Heather Hardy had walked by, still drenched and disheveled post fight after victorious combat with Edina Kiss. She's crying in her blood spattered trunks and appears inconsolable. I don't understand and want to.
Someday when the pages of her fighting life ends, I know she will end up as one of boxing's most beautiful chapters. Her life, after all, is a page turner; it's just that she never expected boxing to turn on her. Certainly, she never expected MMA to be the shoulder to lean on with a face of blood and tears.
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What the fuck is wrong with boxing? How can they be so dismissive of the women who lace em up? There I was at Coney Island last summer for Heather's gut-check career defining victory over bitter rival Shelly “Shelito” Vincent, and yet, the headlines heralded Errol Spence Jr and his still unfolding ascent to stardom on NBC in front of a national audience of over 6 million viewers.
Was he deserving? Sure. But Hardy didn't make a fraction of what Spence made for providing all of the suspense. No one thought Leonard Bundu would beat Spence. Does this make sense to you?
On hand that day at ringside to cheer Heather on was record breaking world champion and fellow Brooklyn all-time great Amanda Serrano. At the time, I hadn't thought about the plight of women's boxing, nor did I think to compare it to women's MMA.
It's not even close.
Not only does the UFC or Bellator, for example, promote ladies in earnest, but they'll often headline them with earnings commensurate to the risk. Boxing just has women risk themselves in relative anonymity for the promotion of men.
“I THINK I JUST FELL IN LOVE.”
Heather stated the above following her most exciting ever victory in combat. She willed her way to a riveting 3rd round demolition of Alice Yauger at Madison Square Garden on Spike TV for Bellator 180 in her MMA debut.
It occurred to me that she made that emotional statement while still in love with boxing. You can never love two masters equally, so it makes sense to believe she'll soon say, “I used to love her” to one of them– lest she gets hurt. We can only truly love someone – or, something – that demonstrates true worthiness of all that we can give. Boxing hasn't really given her shit, in comparison to all she's given it.
As it is, it seems she's had to go through a 20-0 pro boxing gauntlet to reach an MMA pot of gold. To an even greater extent stands the great Serrano (33-1-1, 25KOs) who must now mull the merits of pursuing a 6th divisional championship in boxing that won't yield much fruit, after ripening and devouring the aforementioned Kiss via 3rd round TKO recently.
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The million dollar insurance edict presented to New York boxing represented a “Kiss of Death” for many of the Big Apple's bangers, who as a result, haven't had a choice but to look for an MMA alternative to prizefighting.
I watched Amanda bury Yazmin Rivas in January, while essentially buried on the undercard of James DeGale V Badou Jack and the championship arrival of Gervonta “Tank” Davis. (EDITOR NOTE: The Serrano fight actually screened on Showtime, though.) Then, “The Real Deal” Evander Holyfield'd Dahiana Santana before Shawn Porter went Clubber Lang on Andre Berto this past April. Her glory received was that of token variety.
In becoming the most decorated snd successful female boxer on the planet, Serrano has never deserved auxiliary status on the undercard of B-fighting men on SHOWTIME. She should be the Ronda Rousey of the sweet science, yet, doesn't have a huge commercial endorsement with MetroPCS or gaudy cameos with Vin Diesel in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.
You mean to tell me that Heather Hardy or Amanda Serrano wouldn't be compelling theater in a SHOWTIME All-Access presentation? And it's not like they look like Mike Tyson. No. If we're talking about allure, from the optics of this man, they're both way hotter than the homely looking Rousey.
Be honest, did you know about Holly Holm and all that she had accomplished in boxing before she absolutely kicked Ronda's face in? Some of you have probably never even heard of Lucia Ryker or Cecilia Braekhus.
Which brings me to this… You HAVE heard of Conor McGregor, and you know of Floyd Mayweather and this “Money” persona attached to him. He's also called himself “TBE”, or, “The Best Ever”. Please understand that if Floyd somehow loses to “TBN”, or, “The Best Never”, boxing will never recover from that, as it will lead to more men seeking greener pastures in MMA.
It would be the ‘Kiss of Death' in ladies lipstick.