Sweat on the Notepad: A Running Diary

Jose "El Loco" Hernandez This past Friday night I covered a local professional show put on by Galvans Promotions in Ft. Worth, TX.  The card featured two young prospects you happen to be brothers as well as very accomplished amateurs. Club shows such as these are the lifeblood of the sport as it offers fans to witness prize fighting without making a journey to Vegas, LA, or NY and often are so affordable it makes it hard to say no. Anyway, as I was covering the fight for FightHype.com I thought it to be fun to keep a running diary of the night festivities.  Enjoy! 8:35 PM– I finally reach my destination, an old converted skating rink on the far northwest side of Ft. Worth, TX.  First of all I am an hour late as it is no secret that the DFW metroplex traffic is a nightmare no matter what time of day you travel.  I had anticipated this and left my residence extra early but it seems that the more I plan the more things conspire to get in my way.  Not to mention the fact that the fight was located over 45 miles away from my side of town.  Still one hates to seem unprofessional to the promoter and as I walk up to the window I apologize profusely to the Deborah Galvan who along with her husband George are promoting this evenings bouts.  8:45 PM– After securing my press credentials I make my way over to the press row tables.  I walk over to see Trae Thompson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, probably the only major paper in this area to cover the sport, and Jesse Rodriguez of 15 Rounds.com.  I take a seat next Jesse and look up to see that the first bout is only in the second round.  One thing you can count on is boxing never to start on time. 8:50 PM – The first scheduled fight is between local fighter Anthony McGee and Felix Ramirez of Houston.  To everyone’s delight the fight is a bloody back and fourth brawl that has the large crowd in attendance pleased.  McGee would go on to earn a four round unanimous decision. 9:10 PM– While we wait for the second fight of the evening Jesse and I exchange pleasantries.  Jesse is a former fighter turned writer and is always good for some conversation at the fights.  He remarks on the fact that I was wearing the brown Kangol hat I had worn to a fight back in July and I joked that I was going to trademark it a la Bert Sugar.  9:15 PM – Local boxing figure Ex Alba comes over to join us at ringside.  Ex has been in and around the sport for years and always offers words of sage advice whenever I see him.  I later learn that he and Jesse are planning on starting a North Texas based boxing website.  You can tell that they are excited to get the project off the ground.  I scan the crowd and notice that the general admission seats are pretty filled.  At $30 a seat it is not a bad deal and given the size of the arena there is not a bad seat in the house.  What I also liked was the promoters plan of seating the fans from Dallas and the fans from Ft. Worth on opposite sides as a way to play into the natural rivalry that exists between the two sister cities.  9:20 PM– The second bout is underway and pits local fighter Jose Garcia against Alfred Berto of Houston.  This information was hard to come by sitting ringside as there were no bout sheets distributed and the announcer rushed the introductions which led to all of us on press row asking one another who was in the ring. 9:24 PM– It is clear that Garcia is the way more polished fighter and makes good uses of his jab and footwork.  Boom!  Out of nowhere a picture perfect 1-2 combo puts Berto flat on his back.  Though Berto would rise to beat the count, the referee was wise in waiving off the bout as he was in no condition to continue.  9: 30 PM– A good selection of music is blasting through the speakers keeping the atmosphere festive.  It seems that the ringside seats were not selling quite as well as anticipated and at $75 I ponder if they were overpriced.  Still I glance over and see local welterweight prospect Americo Santos sitting ringside and it appears that maybe I spoke too soon as some late arrivals take their seat in the reserved area. 9:35 PM – Local promoter Wayne Harrison of the Harrison Boxing Group joins us over in press row.  Wayne and his father have been in the sport of boxing for years as managers, promoters, and match-makers.  To say that they know boxing would be an understatement.  Wayne tells us about the fight card he is promoting at the end of the month and wants to make sure that we talk to some of his fighters.  I tell him that I will contact him later in the week to set something up.  I want to do a story on two fighters that are turning pro on his card.  Jesse and I talk about the growing fight scene here in North Texas and both of us could not be more excited. 9:40 PM– The third fight of the evening is between Antonio Reyes, a local fighter from Dallas, and Alicio Castandea of Cut & Shoot, TX.  Yes in Texas we actually have a town named Cut & Shoot, it goes nicely with other Texas cities such as Gun Barrel City, and White Settlement.  Reyes posses some lightning fast hands as well as good reflexes and in the first two rounds is taking the fight to Castaneda.  Around the third Castaneda begins to time Reyes and peppers the young fighter with some solid rights that seem to discourage Reyes from being as active as before.  The two trade shots in the fourth and final round and Reyes looks relieved to hear that we won a majority decision.  Reyes as the tools to take him far but he needs some work in the defense department.  10:00 PM – An intermission is in effect before the co-featured main events take place.  I get up to stretch my legs and use the bathroom.  As I walk into the men’s restroom the smell of weed is billows out of one of the stalls.  You just have to love club shows sometimes.  As I wash my hands I notice Anthony McGee washing some of the blood from is face.  I congratulate him on his victory tonight.  McGee is a genuine nice guy and a pleasure to talk to.  I used to work out of the same gym as he did and some of his sparring sessions were intense.  Though his record stands at 2-3 I believe it is due to the demands of being a full-time father and husband as well as working a 9-5.  You have to root for a guy like that. 10:15 PM– I return to my seat and Jesse remarks on the how good the turn out is given the fact that there was little or no advertising outside of word-of-mouth and Myspace.  I tell him it’s because we are starving for professional fights here and the minute one is staged the die hard fans flock.  I also notice the ring for the first time, it looks strangely familiar.  Then it hits me, this is the ring from the Barney & Me Boxing Gym where I used to get my sweat on.  I look over and jokingly tell Jesse I know this ring and that if you look closely you can see my face imprint in the middle from where I went down in a heated sparring session.  10:20 PM– The co-featured main event is next.  Luis “Mago” Hernandez against shopworn Wanye Fletcher.  Jesse swears this fight won”t go past three.  Hernandez is a beast in the ring and as Jesse put it, Fletcher has been fighting forever but never wins.  10:25 PM – Hernandez is teeing off on the head of Fletcher but he won’t go down.  In fact Fletcher begins to fight back with a sneaky little jab that is slowly causing swelling under the right eye of Hernandez.  It’s clear that Hernandez underestimated his opponent and Fletcher is looking for the upset.  Hernandez never stops winging hard bombs to Fletcher who gets rocked on a number of occasions.  Credit goes to Fletcher for never giving up but after six rounds it was clear that Hernandez deserved the unanimous decision.  Fletcher may have lost his 5th in a row and 23 overall but the kid has no quit in him. 10:50 PM– Local tejano band Latin Express is playing after the fight card but gather on stage to play the ring entrance music for tonight’s headliner Jose “El Loco” Hernandez who is scheduled to go six rounds with Dallas fan favorite Elias “Lazor” Lopez.  It is almost surreal how crazy the crowd gets during the introduction.  To those in attendance this was as big as any fight in Madison Square Garden.  The place was rocking and the action did not fail to live up to the hype.  After a nip and tuck first round in which Hernandez stalked the fleet footed Lopez things began to open up in second.  After backing Lopez up with a sharp jab, Hernandez would let loose a vicious salvo to the body of Lopez as he lay against the ropes.  Lopez spun out of the trap but got caught with an uppercut that was followed by a right that sent “Lazor” on the canvas.  Lopez managed to beat the count to survive the round but his reprieve would be short lived.  In the third Hernandez opened up to the body of Lopez.  A thudding left to the body sent Lopez down to his knee and clearly in pain.  Lopez rose gamely but the end was near as Hernandez again went to the body with another hard left hook that resulted in Lopez on the canvas again.  At this point Lopez’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel as the Ft. Worth side exploded in jubilation.  11:15 PM – I gather my stuff and speak to some of the fighters and the promoter.  Everyone seems pleased with the way things went and according to the promoter another show is in the works for March.  Again good news for the boxing scene here in north Texas and more importantly more chances to break out my sweat and blood stained notebook.  Now for that hell of a journey back to my side of town…

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.