*I’ve been traveling to Las Vegas to so many fights and boxing-related events since early January 1982 when I was at Ceasar’s Palace and watched for the first time a live boxing match between Roberto Duran going up against Wilfredo Benitez.
Those were the days, folks … when the fights were being promoted by Don King at the old Sports Pavillion and telecast live on ABC Wide World Of Sports with Howard Cosell doing the color commentary. It’s been nearly forty years since and I feel truly blessed after seeing a lot of fighters and people come and go in the sport.
Fighters are now getting bigger purses and fights are no longer being shown in theatres on closed-circuit but rather on pay per view and promoters are now putting resources into making fights real family-friendly events and bringing the fighters into the venues with grand entries to begin each fight week. That’s what happened last week when Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz entered the lobby of the MGM Grand and were met by a throng of jubilant admirers. You could sense that this was going to be something big as these two stood together in front of their fans and media members.
I don’t normally get into town as early as Wednesday of fight week but there was something inside me that said I should. Because what happened, I not only attended the final press conference but I connected with my good friend Bill Haney the father of WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and went with them to Summerlin Hospital Medical Center to visit little kids sick with cancer on a trip sponsored by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. Also joining us were former world champions Shawn Porter and Jessie Vargas who each put joy and smiles on the faces of these beautiful courageous kids who are fighting for their lives.
Folks, let me tell you … as exciting and thrilling as the fight ended up being, it didn’t compare to the joy and happiness that this writer received from visiting those sick and vulnerable kids whose lives hang in the balance from being inflicted with cancer. If you could see the smiles that were put on those faces it just brought tears to my eyes just being there. My hat goes off to Mauricio Sulaiman and his staff along with Devin Haney and former champions Shawn Porter and Jessie Vargas for taking the time out of their lives to bring joy into the lives of these kids.
I was also blessed and honored to be among selected media members to attend a dinner the night before the fight sponsored by the WBC at Wolfgang Pucks. Mauricio Sulaiman, folks, is one individual who is on the top of my list of great friends who I consider. A little over three years ago when my daughter was killed, he was one of a couple of people who reached in his pocket to help me with her burial service (something he didn’t have to do) I shall always be there for him for whatever he needs. May Allah reward him for all his good deeds.
Now for the fight folks, I got to tell you I was really hoping that it didn’t go down like it went but be that it did, Deontay Wilder showed the world beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is boxing’s heavyweight knockout king. By stopping Luis Ortiz with one punch that sent shock waves around the world.
And in case some of you all missed it, Ortiz was winning every round up until two minutes and some change into the seventh when he made a huge mistake and didn’t duck his head. But what can you say he fought a good fight against a great champion. And even though he’s about forty or so years of age, he’s still a formidable opponent for any heavyweight in the division and could possibly come back and maybe fight the winner of Ruiz vs Joshua that’s taking place next weekend in Saudi Arabia. As I always say, we’ll see what happens.
“When the tide goes out, that’s when you’ll find out who’s been swimming naked” – Warren Buffett