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The State [Nov. 2019]: To Pac, Shakur

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There’s a malevolence to their peace. Such a rugged grace to a trajectory that feels like descent. I know in them, somehow, that in their darkness is the light. For someone to confuse madness with bats, is to clip the wings of genius in thought for fear of brilliance. I can feel them always. A warning on the other side of hope.

🦇

Oh yes, “The Bad Guy” so good.

As Donald Trump swaggered through Madison Square Garden last night flanked by Dana White, an oddly  comparative incongruity comes to mind.

Here is the embattled President of the United States, the most polarizing figure in the history of the nation, getting a tacit 2020 endorsement from the face of the UFC, in the world’s most famous arena and arguably the greatest metropolis on Earth. Hate him or love him, he’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up — or force Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev (basically the nations of Mexico and Russia) to sit down and wait for his own National Anthem of assorted cheers and jeers to dissipate, before DAZN can even participate in the biggest boxing event of 2019 from the Sin City of Las Vegas.

Talk about having pull with a silent call for Eddie Hearn to “Yo… Fallback.”

This was the equivalent of Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight crashing the East Coast party of Jay-Z, while Eminem and Dr. Dre are forced into an incredibly long and awkward moment of silence before a West Coast party tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. called “California Love”. I thought Canelo would get a KO in 9, but he didn’t Trump Kovalev until the 11th. And The 🏠 always wins in Gotham.

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Shakur Stevenson is an asshole. But so am I. It’s just that enough seasons to produce grey won’t make it rain in my club. I’m the guy with a Scotch irritated for attention, who affects the chatty immigrant bartender’s bottom line with an empty signature and a wink goodbye. Shakur might pour a bottle of Hennessy in her ice, toss dollars on the floor, and threaten to call ICE if she ever ignores him again. It’s a good way to get women to hate, but I think Floyd Mayweather was an aberration in pulling this off at the box office. A different culture of harmonious bonding between the genders is emerging, and love happens when enough amorous thoughts invade the happy space of feelings. If ever this becomes overwhelming in a supernatural way, iridescence will meet flamboyance and you’re in love. But that’s another Stori. 

When it comes to a fighter who will be revered, a certain confluence of this mixture must occur to engender and connect the pugilist to a generation of defined personality cult. Because ‘The Zoomers’ seems to be a principled and pragmatic ensemble of defiance, the very specter of Shakur would have a testy Selena Gomez singing, “Lose you to love me”.

But this is good, in a Floyd Mayweather kind of hateful way; one that will make enough Bitcoin, if not a lot of “Money”.

I always felt like “Pretty Boy” Floyd was a 🐈 just 🐍 charming a 🐕. He could throw catnip at them disguised as bones just to piss them off, before hissing and turning into smoke n mirrors and filling them with venom. His “WTF?” defense, augmented by feathery feet and a work ethic of the plantation’s best cotton picker with a middle finger tattooed on his forehead. That is, until he spotted a certain Filipino immigrant from the other side of the street, digging holes with his hoe at the speed of light under a blazing 🌞, but smiling like he’s in the shade.

He knew Pac was an indefatigable Jack Russell Terrier to counter his breed, and was too finniky to confront an animal requiring much more than finesse. Historically great and arguably the greatest pure boxer of all-time, still, this is Floyd’s demerit; he chose to forego the most arduous adventure with a primary nemesis in his prime. We knew Floyd could morph into a King Cobra when he needed to, it’s just that Pac wanted to be a Mongoose living dangerously all the time; daring to be this over 8-divisions against fiercer opposition over a longer period of time.

Floyd could remove the asterisk over his head out there by a dubious May 2, 2015 Pac, by confronting a Senator Pacquiao that just vanquished Keith “One-Time” Thurman. It says here that all of Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr and all of his caricatures come their day late and a dollar short. He couldn’t beat Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao in court and I don’t think he can beat Senator Pacquiao in the ring. And if they never fight again, he’ll have to live with a victory that has defeated him.

By contrast, what Shakur has in front of him is a gauntlet that quite possibly leads to rarified air beyond them both. Like, Sugar Ray Robinson outer space. He’s everything “Money” in him was right now while still in the hood, and heading toward a place where he’ll have to progress to “Pretty Boy” Floyd. This what Josh Warrington, Leo Santa Cruz, Jamel Herring or Gary Russell Jr would force out of him — a southpaw amalgamation of Sugar Ray Leonard. If that’s not enough for you, the likes of Miguel Berchelt, Richard Commey or Teofimo Lopez (on deck Dec.14 @MSG for Top Rank) would exacerbate mean things within his psyche, presenting a prick aspect of Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker. By the time he got to Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Gervonta “Tank” Davis or “The Matrix”, Vasiliy Lomachenko… He’d need the mind of “TBE” to beat them all, along with the spirit of Pac’s dangerous Mongoose to prevail. Oh, but he can.

There’s a portrait of Shakur in the ring being interviewed after Picasso’ing Joet Gonzalez last week, accompanied by the layer 🍰of entertainment mogul James Prince, ring immortal and mentor Andre Ward and pound-for-pound star Terence “Bud” Crawford smoking Nike.

Just Be You √

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And one last thing. We lost Patrick Day Oct. 16 in the latest fatality produced by the sweet science. The aftermath of this unfortunate result evoked a wide range of emotion and journalistic feedback, mostly of the human variety rather than a professional perspective. That is to say, an honest interpolation completely reactive that should be merely considered subjective opinion for boxing officials to weigh. A poignant Op-ed by Heather Hardy comes to mind. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Max Kellerman’s rather unequivocal on-air assertion that Oleksander Gvozdyk quit against the supernatural physical force that is Artur Beterbiev. He did. The 🔨 broke The Nail and forced him into submission. Doesn’t a UFC fighter theoretically “quit” when he taps out? He can’t take it anymore and we kinda know it. So what? Is he any less valiant? But because Day succumbed in combat, here we see another subtle caveat in the war on Free Speech. It’s so careful Millennial, and we’re now in the age of courageous Zoomer. 

But hey, maybe it’s just me, as a member of combative Generation X. If boxing does a better job of matching B fighters with the same, perhaps the phalanx of tragedy is averted. Around the time Day passed, I put on a tape of the Thrilla in Manila, Ali Vs Frazier III to feel better. Not only was it a very dangerously contested contest, fought in old school gym heat in the arena, but these two all-time great heavyweights — who couldn’t stand each other — were wearing 8oz gloves trying to kill each other and survived. I think boxing should re-examine some of these so-called modern training methods and supplements, that have some participants more interested in being models than soldiers. And as Tupac might say, “You are appreciated.

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About John Gatling

John Gatling

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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