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Ritual (and Reflections) of Battle


Special to Maxboxing by Vinnie Paz

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Vinnie Paz. Not the five-time champ from Rhode Island but a measly rapper/boxing aficionado from Philadelphia. Pazienza was my favorite fighter growing up in the early 80s and my father and I watched all of his fights, which back then were usually televised on Saturdays on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”


My pop told me, "Son, this guy fights like he’s from Philly." I didn’t understand what he meant until many years after he passed away in 1988. I know now. Y’all know where I’m from. PHILLY: the city that birthed Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, cheesesteaks, amazing gym wars, Rocky Balboa, and, well, hostility. We also birthed lesser-known fighters like Andre Prophet, who would’ve been a champ had he not gotten killed at the age of 20. Rumor has it that he used to knock around "Prince" Charles Williams in the gym. Tyrell Biggs was an ‘84 Olympic gold medalist and pretty damn good heavyweight until, when at 15-0, he ran into a guy named Mike Tyson. Jeff Chandler might be the best fighter to ever come out of the city, a Hall-of Famer who successfully defended his bantamweight title nine times. Y’all know where I’m from. 


But I’m not here to give a lesson on obscure fighters from my hood; I’m here to break bread with y’all and talk about the best sport in the world: the “Sweet Science.” 

I sat ringside on Saturday night for the Yuriorkis Gamboa - Jorge Solis fight. On the undercard, Teon "Technician" Kennedy, an undefeated regional beltholder from my beloved city, fought a tough and gritty Jorge Diaz- also undefeated- from New Jersey. Diaz walked through Kennedy for the first two rounds until Mr. Kennedy suddenly remembered he was there to fight. This fight wasn’t on the televised HBO portion but it should have been. These guys went to war in the middle rounds with "Technician" scoring knockdowns in the fifth and sixth. I thought Diaz’s head was gonna land in my lap from the right hand that landed in the sixth but Diaz showed his mettle and hung on tight. There was some good back-and-forth action for the next few rounds but at the end of the day, Kennedy was just too much and I scored it 115-111 for him. Y’all know where Kennedy is from. 


The television broadcast kicked off with Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia vs. Matt Remillard. The fact that Garcia let this kid hang around for ten rounds f**king baffles me. It was a mismatch from Jump Street and Remillard had no business going past six with Garcia. It literally looked like a sparring session and EVERY time Mikey let his hands go, it was an absolute mugging. As they step up Remillard’s competition, he’s gonna need to move his hands more. Maybe his team can play him some Rocky Juarez fights to show him what NOT to do. Living with regret and wondering what could have been is a heavy weight on any man’s shoulders.


Gamboa - Solis was up next. After I grabbed four more vodka and cranberries (c’mon, they were small), I took my seat to watch Gamboa do what he does (On a side note, I think Michael Buffer might live in cryogenic suspension when he’s not working as a professional ring announcer). Look, I’m gonna keep it 100 with y’all. Jorge Solis never had a prayer. Gamboa knocked him down five times within four rounds until Solis’ corner mercifully stopped the fight. Gamboa is ten times faster in person than on TV. I was actually amazed; he’s mad athletic. Like a 1995 “RJJ,” low hands and all. If Yuriorkis was around ten years ago, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and even Naseem Hamed might have stretched him but those guys are either retired, past their primes, or 30 pounds north of Gamboa. It would’ve been a bloodletting though.  


Everybody is waiting for Gamboa – “JuanMa” Lopez now. Allow me to let you in on a secret:  “JuanMa” will get melted by Gamboa within four rounds. I’ll elaborate; the assessment of the boxing world is that both have suspect chins. They’ve both been on the canvas numerous times; that’s an indisputable fact BUT Gamboa always seems to shake the cobwebs, pop up, and handle his handle. “JuanMa”? This kid gets touched by Rogers Mtagwa, who ALSO fights out of Philly, (Y’all know where I’m from. Ha.) and he reacts like he got hit by an Earnie Shavers right cross. He just always seems hurt. I never really felt that way about Gamboa. It’s one of those intangibles we’re always talking about in boxing. It’s not something I can put my finger on; I can just feel it.  


Sh*t, “JuanMa” looked scared to be in the ring with Gamboa in the post-fight interviews! He was stuttering like King George VI when asked about the potential of facing Yuriorkis next. When Solis said Gamboa hit harder than Manny Pacquiao, I think I saw a trickle of sh*t come out the bottom of Lopez’s tight-ass outfit. Top Rank’s Bob Arum is trying to milk his cows the best way he knows how, so I’m not sure when that fight will take place, if it does. I AM sure that “JuanMa” is scared.  Just looking at Gamboa had him sweating like a moron on “Jeopardy.” Son doesn’t want ANY part of that fight. 


Well, I guess that’s it. Thanks for listening to a fellow boxing nerd rant. If you hated my little article, please send all hate mail to Steve "K9" Kim. If you enjoyed it, please send all love, money, and pornography to me, Vinnie Paz @ ...until next time.

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