The Las Vegas super fight – as synonymous with boxing as a racquet is to tennis. This Sunday morning, British fight fans the land over were setting their alarms for the twilight hours in preparation for its latest iteration.
In this instance, the tag was well warranted. As the birds chirped away and the sun gently peaked its head, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin (GGG) readied to face off in possibly the most exciting matchup since the turn of the millennium. Brawn and skill in equal measure would surely make for a historic spectacle, or at least one would hope.
Those people who give themselves over to the prize fighting gods are an optimistic bunch, willing to sacrifice their time in bed in the hope of seeing a brutal contest, but often finding their expectations unfulfilled.
These, however, were no normal circumstances. Before the coffees were brewed, the warmup fights consumed and the last-minute wagers placed, another event, closer to home, demanded our attention on the evening-before-the-morning-after.
Enigmatic and polarising in equal measure, Billy Joe Saunders was tasked with his own middleweight championship defence against Willy Monroe Jr. Thus, the presence of two intriguing events over the course of several hours leant itself to a different kind of fight night report.
As such, I give to you, the Late-Night diary of a British fight fan:
20:30 : Fresh faced and clear of mind, it’s time to settle down for the start of my nine hour binge. Interest is already piqued by how BT Sports coverage will stack up next to the more established Sky and Box Nation offerings. Thankfully the latter, founded by promoter Frank Warren, are the brains behind this evening of boxing, which should lead to a smooth transition. I hope.
20:48 : One of the more enjoyable aspects of watching a pre-fight card is ‘discovering’ the next big thing, of whom the unwashed masses are ignorant. However, for every Anthony Joshua there’s an Audley Harrison. Keeping with the theme of heavyweights, on this occasion it’s Daniel Dubois time to shine, and he doesn’t disappoint. His opponent, so poor that his name hasn’t even registered, is crumpled to the canvas three times in the opening thirty seconds. Here’s hoping the rest of the nights action lasts longer than this.
22:47 : Anthony Yarde puts in a similarly brutal display against a man we’ll refer to as Mr Cannon fodder, while on terrestrial television Callum Smith kicks off the super-middleweight World Super Series in a far more competitive bout, as now world champ George Groves looks on.
23:50 : Even following the questionable antics of his son at yesterday’s weigh in, it’s no surprise that as Billy Joe Saunders swaggers out into Wembley arena, he is met by a rapturous crowd. Or they could just be happy that the long-winded undercard has finally ended.
00:27 : Certainly a fight for the purists. In F1 terms, if the later bout is a battle of Ferrari’s, then this was a clash of the Renaults. Methodical, middle of the road and unspectacular. Saunders moves onto a big money unification fight against one of GGG or Canelo, but he stands little chance against either.
00:45 : Time to lay some money on the line. Any self-respecting fan knows the best time to ponder which fighter to back in a prize fight should be left till a few hours before; you never know when news of a torn rotator cuff or stubbed toe might come trickling down the grapevine, if ever!
01:00: With the Vegas event underway, an opportunity for some shuteye has seemingly presented itself. While i’d love to watch Randy Caballero vs. Diego De La Hoya (riveting stuff no doubt), prior experience has taught me of the need to take advantage of this window. The mental scarring remains fresh after dosing off as Manny Pacquiao flattened Ricky Hatton.
03:15: Why, oh why, was my alarm set so loud. As is standard practice, after being chewed out by a family member for boiling the kettle at such an ungodly hour, it’s time to settle down with a soulless cup of water. Imagine their reactions to the squeals of excitement when I hear that ‘‘let’s get ready to ruuuumbbble’’ ring through my screen.
03:45: In an unexpected turn of events, the card has run like clockwork, with the promised 4am start time seemingly bang on. Whether this is a good or bad omen remains to be seen, but it’s extremely confusing!
04:00: How soon will it be before the referee gets a ring walk? I’d suggest the Undertaker’s theme music as a background accompaniment.
04:05: Will they touch gloves! Won’t they? Why do people care about such things? Nobody knows. But, in the minutes leading the first thuds of glove against flesh, every aspect of the fight must be meticulously analysed. After all, given my uncanny knack for reading body language, I might just be able to predict the outcome of this fight.
04:20: Time to close the curtains – this is the kind of battle that needs to be consumed in darkness. Sun be damned. Four rounds in, the tension is palpable – Canelo, however, is starting to look a little bit overconfident for a guy who’s in there with the most feared boxer in a generation. Something dark is on the horizon….
04:32: As predicted GGG has taken over the middle rounds – I have him up four rounds to three with five to go, and things looking fairly ominous for our flame haired friend.
05:01: Bad decisions have tainted our sport as far back as the Roy Jones robbery at the 1988 Olympics. In terms of sheer brazen gall though, this took the biscuit. GGG dominated the rest of the way, hunting his man down relentlessly. For it to end in a draw is embarrassing. That one judge scored it 118-110 for Canelo is ludicrous. It’s like playing a game of spot the Russian judge (the one who happens to be waving an overlarge a white, blue and red flag).
11:10: That ‘something dark on the horizon’ was surely referring to my mood this morning, which is pretty negative on account of my sleep being robbed from me. As for the big fight? It was a draw. It was a farce. We all lost. The boxing powers that be won.