VOD Review: Boxing Day, Round 2!
We get back in the ring, this time with a roundup of real fights! Come on a tour of the fistic arts as I peruse HBO’s boxing wares.
I recently signed up for the free trial of HBO Now. When I’m wasn’t bogged down deciding which softcore pornography to binge (GoT or Westworld? So hard to pick.), I checked out their boxing selection. Boxing is a vanishing beast on cable television these days, with HBO and Showtime being the last refuges for these endangered pugilistic primates. If you were wondering what the state of the art is in 2017, lace ’em up and shadow me through some of the highs and lows on offer.
Cotto v. Ali (air date: 12/02/17)
A boxing match is often a narrative. Sometimes the promoter sets the story, other times the announcers. Other times the fight itself spins a yarn, and it’s up to the viewer to separate fiction from fantasy. This is one such fight. Miguel Cotto is an iconic boxer, one whose body of work tells the tale of a hard hitting workaholic. When Cotto announced that this was to be his final fight, expectations were high for a send-off worthy of the future hall of famer.
For the majority of this fight, that story was every bit as advertised. Sadam Ali is a live puncher, and in the early rounds he landed a few blows that clearly hurt the veteran. Then Cotto’s devastating left hand started finding its home and the middle rounds began an exciting comeback. Then Round 8, a round that was literally mesmerizing. Cotto’s comeback was in full effect when Ali landed a blow that seemed to snatch the heart right out of Cotto. From there on Ali took round after round, yet was unable to put the former champion away.
It is after the fight that it became apparent that what my eyes told me wasn’t the entire tale. Cotto had a visibily rolled up biceps, a tear that effectively sealed off his powerful left hand. He claimed it occurred during that faithful 8th round, the same one where Ali managed to hurt him in a way that seemed to stick. Which was event settled the story? You decide.
Should You Watch: Yes, be prepared to pause and rewind.
Vargas v. Smith (air date: 12/09/17)
Watching Boxing is like playing minesweeper. You want action, which requires violence, which entails the risk of gruesome disfigurement. Often, you get away with just some cuts, and maybe a scary looking knockout. Other times, you have to turn away from the horror. This fight is one of those times. Vargas and Smith decided to spend the entire match like Rams sparring for a mate, and the result was a grotesquerie where Smith’s left ear used to be. When the poor abused cartilage had finally reached it’s limit, the fight was stopped. But not before the camera gives you a focused, HD look at what a cleft ear is like. Yuck.
Should You Watch: What kind of monster are you?
Salido v. Roman (air date: 12/09/17)
Ding Ding Ding! We’ve got a winner. This wasn’t a boxing match, this was a lumberjack convention. So many powerful, brutal, beautiful chopping hooks to the body! It’s like the IBF told Salido and Roman that the belt was being hidden in the center of their opponents 4th Lumbar Vertebrae, and they decided to spend the entire fight digging it out. I usually prefer technique over violence, but this fight was too good to ignore. Back and forth, each round ratcheting up the tension, the violence, the adrenaline. My vote for fight of the year.
Should You Watch: Why are you still reading???? Get on it, my good man!
Golovkin V. Alvarez (are date: 09/16/17)
This fight was pure gold. That Salido v. Roman edged this fight out for fight of the year is no knock on this barn burner. Gennady Golovkin is a freak of nature. A man with all the gifts such as this should not exist. He hits like a garbage truck filled with jet fuel. He has a chin that the Manhattan Project would be powerless to destroy. And he throws more jabs than the sum of all boxer that have ever lived. If they put him in a Rocky movie, everyone would complain that the movie wasn’t realistic; no monster could possess such terrible might. That the fearsome counter-punching prowess of Canelo Alvarez not only withstood, but turned back this Leviathan all match was incredible. Then the refs stepped in and jobbed both fighters. The rematch will shake heaven and earth.
Should You Watch: Yes, verily Yes!
I hope you find this sampler platter of the sweet science satisfactory. While MMA has definitely taken a lot of the wind out of boxing’s sails, there are still amazing fights to be had, and 2017 was no slouch. All of the above fights are still available on the HBO Go/Now apps. Just be warned, Fanfare for the Common Man might get stuck in your head for upwards of 24 hours. See your physician if a sudden urge to wear short shorts while jogging on the beach occurs.