How I wish Bert Randolph Sugar were here for this.
Feeling like some sort of odd confluence of a male Carrie Bradshaw, it’s as if I’ve just seen a preview for “Sex in Boxing’s City” at Madison Square Garden in a way that will not be anticlimactic. WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, two of the greatest pure boxers in the history of prizefighting, have just engaged in arguably the most spectacular weigh-in of all-time.
Stars aligned inside of Chase Plaza like so many diamonds falling from the sky. It’s a luminous setting consisting of boxing media royalty who were around for a Sugar Ray Leonard V Wilfred Benitez skills fest. Their faces say they recall a joy in much younger faces experiencing their own “moment.” They also say that this moment is bigger.
An epic result seems as likely as dawn.
Minutes later, I’m walking along 7th Ave and can’t figure out which gift to cop for my Mom from a vendor. “That one,” says Lomachenko with a wink, from out of nowhere with his small entourage amid a sea of New Yorkers. It’s surreal.
I’m under the glow of Christmas lights and I can’t stop smiling and people watch and they smile as they pass by and nobody wonders why. I’m wondering, in this moment of happiness, what Sugar would think of how sweet this moment is.
An old fight guy would put clouds in the air as one hand sinks in the pocket. His Fedora would tilt downward, hiding a Kramer face of disgusted laughter I can feel, as he slowly strolls a sarcastic gape with a stogie swingin in the other hand. Finally, he just stops and stares at me.
Grumbling in a raspy voice, with breath that smells like a decent merlot camouflageing a stomach full of aristocratic Cuban cigar smoke, Sugar drops the mic in the middle of New York City traffic.
“Don’t go gettin moist on me kid– I’m too old for that. Besides, it’s just Vasyl Lomachenko against Guillermo Rigondeaux. What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Fantasy embedded in classic Fake News gone right. Some would call that classy locker room talk.
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I do hope you’re a connoisseur of fine things. If you are, then you deserve this. You can’t be mixing Hennessey with Sprite with your ass showing in the building. You probably can’t be guzzling an Old Milwaukee with orange stained fingers from Doritos at a house party for this.
This is class.
This is the “Most Interesting Man In The World” and James Bond locked in competition at the bar. A form of violent ballet against an angry jazz. An 80’s flick showdown of Weird Science V Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, while you’re trying to figure out if Meldrick Taylor beats Pernell Whitaker.
This was Bert Sugar’s kind of fight. Sort of like what Inception was to movie buffs who liked having their minds in a washing machine. He’d have a hard time with this one. Rigondeaux looked very strong at Mendez Boxing Gym on Wednesday. Deliberately. His great animated trainer, Pedro Diaz, ran up to me screaming in fractured English, “I told you! I told you!”, recalling our conversation about this then fantasy match-up before Ward V Kovalev II. The bell has yet to ring on Saturday night, and in fun, he’s already telling me I’m wrong.
If you’re reading me for the first time its not too late. Early on while envisioning this fight, I had Lomachenko slowly Sugar Ray Leonard’ing an older, slower and smaller Wilfred Benitez over 8 or 9 rounds. I still see it that way. Loma actually had Rigo, somehow, looking like a student Tesla to his professor Einstein during Thursday’s final presser.
During Friday’s weigh-in, he looked like Michelangelo next to Picasso. There’s such a vastness in time and scope of artistic weight between them. If this fight does nothing else, it will reveal a rare difference between great fighters crested in a special dimension.
Lomachenko will emerge pound-for-pound otherworldly, in a way that makes The Matrix seem real from ringside or the rafters of your living room. Or…