It’s Valentine’s Day, and as a hardcore boxing fan, you’d love to have everyone believe that you’re reliving Robinson-Lamotta VI. While that may be the case, if it is, you’re in the minority for whom this day does not apply. The rest of us are finding ways to impress our significant others, crushes, or arbitrary folks to spend the night with.
In order to accomplish any of those goals, one needs a good collection of slow jams. Their purpose is two-fold: They start to get your honey in the mood, and their lyrics give you some guidance on how to ensure they get there.
R&B is often introspective, offering a lens into your own life, specifically your love life. But it can teach us many things. Boxing, as we know, can be a metaphor for life as well. By that equation, romantic music can most certainly be about boxing.
So for those of us who aren’t quite lonely enough to be watching fight footage from 1951 today, let’s take a look at some pertinent boxing topics through the lens of classic slow jams.
Full Force- All In My Mind
“You thought the grass was greener on the other side/You found out it was blue rain now you cry/You packed your bags and you left/You want to come back home/And now your wells gone dry/You want to come back to me for more”
Paul Anthony and Bow-Legged Lou sang about a girl whom they thought would never return on their only top ten single from 1988. It was roughly after the success of this hit that Full Force started to fade into the background and focus on producing hit singles for other artists, and appearing in classic films such as House Party and House Party 2.
In this respect, Carlos Quintana and Junior Witter represent both the fictional woman Full Force sing about in “All in My Mind,” and not Full Force themselves.
After a knockout loss to Andre Berto, the consensus in the boxing community was that at age 34, Quintana no longer had the athleticism necessary to employ his style at a championship level. News that “El Indio” would be a sparring partner for Paul Williams gave some indication that he was not ready to pack it in, but not until a bout with Ishmael Tetteh (hilariously nicknamed The Black Roy Jones Jr.) was announced did we know for sure. Instead of pulling a Full Force and producing future champions, he will add to his delusion by defeating hapless fighters with erroneous and ironic nicknames alluding to former champions.
Meanwhile, Witter will return against Canadian Victor Lupo after a ligament injury saved him from a shutout loss to Devon Alexander. Although the bout is at welterweight, and Witter had previously spoken of campaigning at 147, that seems to be a mirage for his main goal of facing Amir Khan for a big payday in his homeland of the United Kingdom. “The Hitter” would assume Full Force’s role in the House Party franchise, playing the evil villain to the main character, Khan.
To take that analogy to its final stop—the best case scenario would be for Witter to defeat Khan in what would undoubtedly be a “Pajama Jammy Jam”-type snooze fest.
Boyz II Men- On Bended Knee
“Can somebody tell me how to get things back/The way they use to be/Oh God give me a reason/I’m down on bended knee/I’ll never walk again until you come back to me”
When Erik Morales slumped with his hands over his bent knees and shook his head toward his father to inform him that he would surrender in his final of three bouts with Manny Pacquiao, most believed that the future Hall of Famer had bowed out of the sport as well.
But a loss to David Diaz, a three year hiatus, and three victories over fringe contenders later, Morales is back on HBO pay-per-view against Marcos Maidana.
Why would he put himself in such absurd danger? Because like Boyz II Men, he isn’t going anywhere until Manny Pacquiao comes back to him. Sure, the allure of being the first four-division Mexican world titleholder has been the undertone of all of Morales’ interviews since his comeback early last year, but the overtones and headlines have all read “I want Manny Pacquiao.” Not just because people who voluntarily examine boxing in different regions of the world make money off typing his name and enticing his fans to click on it, but because he genuinely thinks he can beat Manny Pacquiao.
He can’t. People question whether Floyd Mayweather could beat Manny Pacquiao. As subtly brilliant a boxer as “El Terrible” was, the modern version of Mayweather is far superior in that respect. A modern version of Morales will be lucky if the final ten seconds of his April 9 pay-per-view showdown take place with him conscious.
New Edition- Can You Stand the Rain
“On a perfect day I know that I can count on you. When that’s not possible, tell me can you weather the storm?”
Arthur Abraham is a lot like the woman Johnny Gill is referencing in his famous line to open the New Edition wedding staple “Can You Stand The Rain.” When punches aren’t being thrown at him, and he is fighting in Germany with referees who frown upon body punching, Abraham is quite comfortable. When the environment changes, his guard acts as a defective umbrella as he is showered with punches of all varieties.
After getting drenched in the storms that were Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch, Abraham decided he better try to weatherproof and test himself against Stjepan Bozic. The former middleweight titlist engaged with his limited opponent in the 1st round, and could arguably have lost it. Keep in mind, while he was throwing punches, he was doing so against a glass-fisted foe. That assessment proved itself correct in the second round, as Bozic shattered his hand on Abraham’s signature tightly-tucked elbows, earning him a TKO loss.
Disappointed with the method of victory, after the bout, Abraham simply shrugged.
One is likely to produce the same response if asked, “Will Arthur Abraham throw more than 50 punches against Andre Ward?”
Ready for the World- Let Me Love You Down
“It never really mattered too much to me/That you were just too damned old for me”
Ready For The World frontman Melvin Riley sticks with his tried and true formula of the generous, giving lover, this time as a young man trying to prove to an older woman that he can satisfy her sexually.
Kazuto Ioka was trying to do something similar last weekend. The 21-year old fighter from Japan defeated Oleydong Sithsamerchai for the WBC strawweight title in just his seventh professional bout. Even more impressive is that Ioka had only faced fellow Japanese fighters in his hometown, and had never even had to make 105 pounds, having fought his first six times at 108.
Riley is equally as inexperienced in the tune. His most notable moments with the woman he desires is driving her home from work and receiving a kiss goodbye. Indeed, for a 21-year old, kissing an older woman in a car is likely to be arousing, especially considering a good portion of 21-year olds’ sexual experiences have taken place in a vehicle, the surroundings could have an aphrodisiac-type effect. However, the reality is that Riley, like Ioka, had no reason to believe he was anywhere near a “shot at the title,” but he was prepared to do anything he could to please her, “even if it took all night.”
It only took five rounds for Ioka to stop Sithsamerchai (who should have been knocked out in his previous outing as well), and make Osaka, Japan as proud as Flint, Mich. was of Ready For the World.
Usher- Nice and Slow
“There ain’t no one there to interrupt/Ain’t gotta rush/I just wanna take it nice and slow”
Before Usher had anything to confess, and before he wanted to let loose and get wild in the club, he was teaching listeners the value of taking your time and savoring the moment with your woman.
Mike Jones didn’t savor the moment against Jesus Soto Karass last November.
Jones looked as excited as Usher was in “You Make Me Wanna,” as he punched himself out in the 2nd round, before squeaking out a unanimous decision victory.
“I tried to finish him, but I did it in the wrong way,” said Jones over the phone last week. “I threw a lot of arm punches, I left myself open a whole lot, I didn’t step around. I made quite a few mistakes.”
Like Usher went on to do after opening his six-times platinum album “My Way” with the aforementioned anxious track proclaiming his desire to leave his current relationship for a new woman, Jones has realized the dangers of his ways and vows to display more patience.
“I’m glad I didn’t clip him, because I learned so much from that fight,” said Jones. “You can’t go in there and blast away and throw your whole arsenal at a guy in the second round like that.”
Corey Erdman is a boxing writer, as well as a radio host and producer at SIRIUS 98. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman or send him an email at email@example.com.