Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Importance of Local Boxing Shows

They say that boxing is dying. They’ve been saying that for a long time now, but with the emergence of even grittier sports such as MMA, packaged and marketed perhaps better than the sweet science, some boxing fans are starting to agree. Not me.

In my opinion, true boxing fans are the ones who follow the sport through any means necessary. Be it television or streams (only the legal ones, naturally), or live shows, there is plenty of good boxing out there to be enjoyed. And it starts at home.

Some of the greatest fights I have ever seen have come on a local level, with unknown fighters who enter the ring for the promise of glory, or for the love of fighting, but all with the intention of winning and putting on a good show. The success of boxing should not only be measured by the big fights, but by all fights, including the ones on the local level. That’s how fans are born and how new fighters are inspired. It’s by the hometown heroes who show that they’ve got what it takes to make it on the big stage – as in any sport.

Art of Boxing and Bash Boxing promotions put on some of my favorite local shows and at the seventh installment of their “War at Woodland Hills” series, I was treated to what has become a pattern of exceptional and gritty matches. The crowd was a real boxing crowd, as all of their shows attract, and the action in the ring lived up to the cheers and screams heard throughout the entire evening.
Highlights of the night included a 4-round fight between welterweights, Neil Arellano and Shawn Gary, both making their professional debuts. All four rounds were action-packed, with great exchanges and ruthless combinations being thrown. Both fighters stayed composed and defended well, but their aggressive styles shone out, much to the delight of the crowd. Though Arellano got the decision in the end, Gary’s next opponent is in for a tough night and will most likely grossly underestimate him because of this loss.
Local favorite, Zachary “Kid Yamaka” Wohlman (2-0-0) also attracted his unprecedented legion of followers to watch him pound it out with Cleveland, OH native, Clifford McPherson (2-8-1). The match started beautifully with Wohlman landing a stiff right hand on McPherson, who immediately returned the favor by landing a thumping right hand of his own. Wohlman took the early lead in power shots, but when the wild-styled McPherson would land a punch, it was thunderous. Disappointingly, the action was halted late in the first round by the referee, after McPherson collapsed to the canvas without having endured a heavy blow and was unable to continue. It became clear moments later that he had injured his left hand, as Wohlman’s trainer and cornerman, Eric Brown graciously and gingerly helped McPherson’s trainer remove the glove and hand-wrap.

A disappointed and sad McPherson told me after the fight that it was an injury to his thumb that caused the sudden collapse. “I must have turned my hand the wrong way and hit him. I felt a sting in my thumb and I fell down automatically,” the fighter said. “I got back up and thought I could continue, but it still was aching and the referee just called it off.” Though the fans were a little disappointed that the promising bout was cut short, they were elated that Wohlman’s record improved to 3-0.
The main event of the evening was between unbeaten DonYil Livingston (8-0-1) and Elie Auugstama (5-4-0). Auugstama had a tricky style and surprising hand-speed that had Livingston down on the canvas in the opening round. Though hometown favorite Livingston put up a valiant effort the remaining five rounds, Auugustama countered with well-timed clinches and continued his awkward and quick offense to win a split decision over Livingston, handing him his first defeat.
It is shows like these where fighters get "the bug" and hunger for the bigger stage and the bigger crowd. It is oftentimes the achievements at this level that shape a fighter's future and provide the very hope that gets them there. As a fan, it's cool to watch the transcendence of a fighter at such an early stage. Kind of like when people talk about a hot new band, and you being able to say "yeah, I actually really like their old stuff too".

Support your local shows, boxing fans!!

1 comment:

  1. OT: I guess I'm not the only one asking this question. Is Manny Pacquiao really retiring now that he has won the senatorial seat? You can still watch his videos at the Manny Pacquiao Official Youtube channel on Youtube!