What I expected came to pass: walk into the boxing gym that Monday, hear loud conversation making use of words like "headbutting," "legal," and "Pacquiao's next."
Floyd Mayweather being a native son, any talk of Saturday's fight was in his favor, the subtleties of sportsmanship drowning in deep loyalty. I'd wanted the opinion of the gym to help pull apart the images replaying in my mind: the knockout punch; Ortiz and his dropped hands; Floyd's empty gaze; the ref looking away. Were they on a break when the knockout happened? And even if the punch was legal, was it cool to do?
Clips are now all over the internet, and I see now that the ref clearly motioned for them to resume boxing. And that Floyd hesitated after that left hook, giving Ortiz enough time to cover, which he didn't take. Bam.
Watching the knockout live, in a theater full of people in Mayweather's hometown, was disconcerting. The break ended quickly, the ref's signal seen by Floyd but few others, which made those final two punches seem particularly menacing. The crowd roared, but my jaw dropped; it felt like watching a street fight. Clean shots. The guy just standing there. Pure, straightforward violence.
"He put it back into the boxing," a friend at the gym said. She was referring to revenge; Ortiz had headbutted Floyd's chin seconds earlier, an illegal move that only cost him a point, but could have slowed his opponent. Dirty fighting. Floyd took the fight back into the ring by waiting for the signal but not for his opponent. Bam. BAM.
That same night at the gym, we ran through stations with partners. I saw that one of the men on mitts was someone I worked with before, who stops by from another gym to help out.
I didn't like this guy.
The person with the mitts calls the shots, holds the power. This man was aggressive with me, probably due to inexperience. I learned a lot from him, but not in a way I prefer. He'd lunge at me. Run at me. Call out a couple of punches, which I'd execute, and then suddenly shove me around the ring with his body.
Apparently I was supposed to fall into a pseudo-sparring mode--I think--but no one told me that. I thought I was hitting mitts. I threw out my right elbow a little, something I never do.
(Fortunately he ended the round by having me punch him in the face multiple times. He was demonstrating how to catch a punch, whereas I was appreciating the opportunity with full-on violence.)
Power: he held all of it.
I told my partner and she took him for me, and I worked with another guy. My friend and I are going to spar soon. She has 40 pounds on me and seven years, but I'm in better shape than she is. The pounds don't worry me, because I trust her. She'll give me as good of a fight as I want, but she won't be looking to hurt me. It's going to be a lot of fun.
It got me thinking back to Floyd. Separate out the boxer from the man, and you may just be on his side. The man used his power appropriately, cunningly, within the rules, something not everyone knows how to do.