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Don’t Cry For NYFIGHTS, Site Made the Most of Its 6 Minutes

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Don’t Cry For NYFIGHTS, Site Made the Most of Its 6 Minutes
Art courtesy Amanda Kelley

Boxing and sportswriting haven’t exactly been two burgeoning industries over the past decade. People don’t really read as much as scroll anymore, and mainstream sports fans are as likely to know more badminton than boxing. Partake in both – sportswriting and boxing – and it’s the equivalent of becoming human evaporation: it’s happening, but no one’s really paying attention.

So you have to be particularly optimistic to start a boxing website. But the feisty Michael Woods did that with NYFights.com nine years ago. After years at ESPN The Magazine and Everlast and becoming a respected regular of the national boxing scene, the Massachusetts-born Brooklyn, New Yorker started NYFights.com.

And he did it with the single-minded mentality of Marvelous Marvin Hagler entering the ring vs. Thomas Hearns: damn the torpedoes, we are going to do this and we are going to make it work.

Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns

And he did. He made it work.

Against all odds, he built the little-boxing-website-that-could into something that boxing’s crazy, impassioned, unpredictable, loyal fans turned to for everything from features to columns to analysis to fight night coverage to you-name-it. It also included his unique brand of coverage-plus-commentary that made it a little bit different than anything else out there.

If Woodsy was fired up about something, he let his readers know his position – in no uncertain terms. And most of the time he was right.

He fights for the little guy. He sees something wrong – he says it. He sees something unfair – he yells it from the mountaintops.

That’s what sets him and his website apart. He tells the truth and he expects his contributors to tell the truth. No frills, no elaborate ring walk, no fancy entrance music or shiny sequins on his trunks.

Truth. That’s what his website aimed for. Passion, energy and truth.

And talent.

NYFIGHTS Started By Michael Woods Featured A Ragtag Crew of Lesser Lights, Newbies, Loonies, Etc

He put together an able staff that starts and ends with Gayle Falkenthal. If you aren’t familiar with Gayle, you should be. This woman works as hard as anybody in this crazy business. Prefight, midfight, postfight, barfight and more updates than a bad weatherman. If the fight card starts at 3 p.m. – Gayle’s there at 1:30. Not strolling in. But “in-her-seat” there.

She once wrote that if you weren’t covering the four-round flyweight bout that opened the card in the mid-afternoon – then you really weren’t covering the card. Those of us who rarely did that – me – bowed their head in acknowledgement. She’s exactly right.

There’s that truth thing again. That’s what good journalism does. It makes you think. It makes you take a look at yourself. It makes you change.

But then there was a fleet of young and seasoned talent that filled out the NYFights roster. All with their own styles and takes and particular interests. And a ton of goodwill.

All the contributors supported one another. No big-leaguing in this group. Constant shoutouts and congratulations. And, through the couple of years I participated, I don’t think I praised these guys and gals as much as they deserved.

Abe Gonzalez, Jacob Rodriguez, Ryan O’Hara, Colin Morrison, Glen Sharp, Hector Franco, just to name a few. I’ve never met most of them face-to-face, but through their writing and their passion for boxing, I felt like I knew them.

We were bound by our profound, and sometimes perplexing, love of a sport that we celebrate and curse with equal regularity.

You’ll hear from all of them again. Like musicians, like fighters, like everything living – everything has its time. What did Elmo tell Louden Swain in 1980s movie Vision Quest? “It ain’t the six minutes. It’s what happens in that six minutes.”

NYFights.com made its mark in its six minutes.

It proved that a little boxing website could exist in the 21st century, and that people would actually read it. It leaves a legacy of integrity, passion and truth.

Not bad at all.

Well done, Woodsy.

EDITOR NOTE: I, Michael Woods, will be editor of this site until midnight April 30, 2024, for the record.

Matthew, thank you. This is some of your best work. Why? Because you are pointing your finger at others–and praising them. Love it. That's lifting them up. That's selfless. That's better than money!

Part of my work going forward will be to encourage more folks to realize that. It only became this clear to me when I hit bottom and sought extra help.

When/if a values shift happens on a larger scale, we can more so begin to course correct. That is needed, don't have to, or shouldn't have to tell anyone that. But I do, because 99% of the messaging is the opposite.

We are encouraged to stay in our lane, keep grinding, and yeah, that doesn't leave much time or energy to help lift fellow travelers who are weary. Lot of weary travelers out here.

My mission now is to more so help the weary, especially ones struggling with “mental illness,” and conditions I understand because I experience them: bipolar, ADD (ADHD), anxiety, depression.

First I should take a break, get some vacation chill time. Haven't done that in I don't now how long.

Thanks all for reading. Those that stood in the pocket with this half-crazy motherfucker and put up with it, thank you. Matthew, you and that select few are welcome to stay with me going forward, I will be “staying in boxing” to some degree.