By Chip Mitchell: My colleague Robert Uzzell and I recently attended three major fight cards on the east coast. The events just so happened to take place on back-to-back-to-back weekends. Hey, who says all the good fights land in Vegas? As gas prices soared to about $3.80 per gallon, we wondered if Greyhound or even Air Tran would be a feasible option in the future. Nevertheless, we gassed up the vehicle and began our journey.
First up was the much-anticipated rematch between Antonio ‘The Tijuana Tornado’ Margarito and Miguel ‘Junito’ Cotto. The house was packed as the majority Hispanic crowd came to support their respective compatriots. There were maybe three times as many Cotto supporters than there were fans for Margarito.
Robert and I arrived in New York a couple of hours before doors opened, so we decided to head to Chinatown to squeeze in a little shopping. The deals were in full-effect between Delancey Street, Canal Street, and Broadway. I picked up a ‘Rolex’ watch, a few ‘designer’ pocketbooks for the old lady, and a bottle of great smelling cologne. Robert decided on a few hats, an exquisite watch, and some scarves – one of which he put into effect at that moment, as temperatures were rapidly dropping.
As we ventured to pick up our credentials, the atmosphere inside of Madison Square Garden was electric. We realized that our coverage of the fight would come from section 219 of the Garden. Let me just put it this way– if you look up section 219 you’ll notice that it isn’t the easiest place to try to cover a fight. Nevertheless, we were in.
The fight was stopped in the tenth round, as Margarito was deemed unable to continue by the fight doctor. I personally believe that Cotto was in a bit of trouble and was maybe one or two uppercuts from being knocked down. Robert disagreed and felt that Cotto would cruise to victory in the final two frames. Margarito seems like damaged goods at this point and I wish him well. Cotto fought a good fight and bigger things await him.
Next up was a trip to the capital of the United States; Washington, DC, where Lamont Peterson played host to Amir Khan. Robert and I arrived early as Golden Boy Promotions originally slated doors to open at 4:00pm (eastern) and first fight at 4:30pm. I’ve never been to a card that started so early. A release came out and doors were scheduled to open at 4:30 with the first bout set to begin at 5:00pm.
We arrived around 5:00pm to see a crowded lobby with close to 500 people. The doors didn’t open until 6:00pm and the first bout took place at 6:30. Way to go Oscar. You got the ‘early’ arriving crowd that you desired. Nice business move by Golden Boy Promotions. By 7:30, the house was packed. Sharmba Mitchell, Paul Williams, R & B singer Ginuwine, Tony Thompson, Riddick Bowe, Donovan McNabb, Adrien Broner, and Paulie Malignaggi were some of the guests of note in the house on this historic evening. Mysteriously- and to the dismay of the British fans in attendance- alcohol stopped being served about 15 minutes before the televised portion of the card.
The main event had Khan jumping out to a quick start and Peterson attempting to slow him down with a brutal body attack. The bout was action-packed and when the final bell rang, fans of both fighters cheered to the top of their voices. It seemed to take 15 minutes for the cards to be turned in and when scores were read, Washington, DC had a new, unified champion. My opinion is that the less talented Peterson with an undervalued trainer (Barry Hunter) outworked the more naturally talented Khan with soon to be Hall of Fame inductee, Freddie Roach. My counterpart, Robert Uzzell shared the same opinion.
The final stop in our three-week journey was Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. The Super 6 Final, featuring Andre “S.O.G.” Ward and “The Cobra”, Carl Froch. Oakland, United States vs. Nottingham, England. Lamont Peterson, Bernard Hopkins, David Ortiz, Barry Hunter, Anthony Dirrell, and Lucian Bute were all in the house. What struck me as odd was the fact that none of the other participants in the tournament were there. I was expecting to see them all called to the ring to line up and take a bow to all four sides of the arena. I’m sure they would’ve received a nice ovation and plenty of photo and autograph opportunities.
Andre Ward received a deserved unanimous decision. From my angle, I can see if someone gave Carl three or four rounds in the fight. I don’t see anything wrong with a 117-111 or 116-112 card at all. There was a clear winner in this fight and it was Andre Ward.
I really like Andre Ward, but one thing just keeps eating away at me. Andre was the only fighter in the tournament that didn’t have a “road game”. In other words, he never went to an opponent’s country to fight. Hell, he didn’t even leave Oakland until the Final. I’m not saying the result would’ve been any different, but I’d sure like to have seen Ward fight in hostile territory.
The championship is tainted, in my opinion. It’s unfair for other fighters to adhere to the rules of the tournament, and then have Andre remain untouched.
Nevertheless, it was an exciting evening in Atlantic City and congrats to Team Ward. They signed autographs and posed for pictures at least an hour after the post-fight presser. Outside on the boardwalk in freezing temperatures, you could see Andre and his team still signing and posing. I thought that was classy on their part, as they realize the important role that fans play in their careers.
Overall, it was a fantastic three weeks of boxing on the east coast. Definitely time for an oil change, as the miles piled up on “The Chipmobile”. Congratulations to Miguel Cotto, Lamont Peterson, and Andre Ward. Congratulations should also go to the champions’ opponents and other participants as well. What a great way to end 2011 and we can’t wait for what 2012 has in store. Stay tuned…