Chris Brown Vs Soulja Boy May be the Most Important Fight of the 21st Century

chris-brown-soulja-boy-boxing-match

The fight between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy which is scheduled for March 2017 is very important from a cultural, economic, and revolutionary standpoint. I’m very excited about this fight and I’m actually contemplating flying to Las Vegas to watch it all go down live in person. And no I am not a 19-year-old woman with a crush on either one of the combatants nor am I a 19-year-old aspiring rapper with a mixtape to sell. I am, however, a witness to the transformative properties of boxing. Here are three reasons why Chris Brown Vs Soulja Boy could be the most important match of the 21st century.

 

#GUNSDOWNHANDSUP

The murder rate in predominately African-American communities is disproportionately high. Chicago alone recorded 762 murders in 2016. That’s over two murders a day! It seems as though every dispute—no matter how petty—is settled behind the trigger. Sometimes innocent women and children are caught in the crossfire. This is why we need young men in the ghetto who are full of anger and testosterone to put their guns down, get their hands up and fight. Chris Brown and Soulja Boy had a beef which, according to Soulja Boy, began because Chris Brown found out Soulja Boy had gotten too close to a few of Chris Brown’s ex-girlfriends. And then thanks to Instagram and other forms of social, it got ugly. They went back and forth and Soulja even posted a picture of Chris Brown’s daughter which of course infuriated the R&B singer.

In present day Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Houston this is more than enough to justify murder. At the very least Chris and Soulja have enough influence to control any young goon in America to do their bidding. But they have chosen not to engage in a proxy war which would probably bring some form of tragedy to several Hollywood and Atlanta after parties, instead they have chosen to fight one another the old-fashioned way—with their gloved fists. That is admirable. It takes tremendous heart to get inside the ring and fight for three rounds. It does not take any heart to gun a man down or disrespect him on social media.

 

Boxing ain’t easy

 

The general public needs to know that just because you won a fight during lunch recess in the 6th grade, or you used to routinely beat the hell out of your little brother, or you knocked out some loud-mouthed drunkard at the club last week does NOT mean that you can actually fight. The craft of boxing demands skill and not rage. At the novice level an amateur boxing match is three, two minute rounds. Now I want everyone who is reading this to think about every fight that you have ever had. Then think about how long it actually lasted. If you have never participated in boxing, then your longest fight was probably no longer than 30 seconds. My point is that it takes tremendous mental fortitude to go toe to toe with another trained fighter who is trying to put you to sleep for two minutes straight. It will be interesting to see how Chris and Soulja respond when they throw their hardest punch and their opponent is still there and still fighting. The truth is that when we fantasize about fighting our bosses, or the dude that cut us off on the freeway, or the racist snobby lady that makes the snarky passive aggressive comment while in line at the grocery store, it always ends in a knock out. As the fantasy goes; you ball up your fist really tight, reach back as far as you can and punch the shit out of that person. Then they fly in the air and when they finally come back down to earth they are completely unconscious. Then you slowly walk away but not before screaming something like; “What bitch!” “You got knocked the fuck out!” “I quit this job mutha fucka!”

 

Of course, when you’re in a boxing ring fighting another trained fighter it doesn’t work that way. If you load up on your punches (that is to rear back before you throw) then your opponent simply slips the shot and counters you. Or if you land the shot then your opponent will more than likely step to you and try to land a hard shot of his own. In our violent fantasies, we all possess brutal one punch knock out power but in real life this is a very rare gift. That’s why boxers are trained to throw combinations and then get out of the way. There’s also the crazy amount of stamina that it takes to fight an amateur bout. You have to do some facet of training every single day of the week. You need to spar, run 6-10 miles a day, shadow box excessively, and give up junk food. It will be interesting to see if two young men who drink alcohol, do drugs, and are adored by millions of women around the globe are willing to do what it takes to be victorious in the ring. They won’t be able to take their crews into the ring with them, they won’t be able to call timeout when they’re tired, and they won’t be able to get their trainers (Floyd Mayweather for Soulja Boy and Mike Tyson for Chris Brown) to fight for them. They’ll have to dig deep within themselves in a way that they probably have never had to do before.

 

Boxing picks up where the negro leagues left off

With all the contributions that African-Americans have made to football, basketball, and baseball the fact remains that of those three major American sport that embody about 100 franchises there is only one team that is owned by a black person. We see African-Americans running, dribbling, dunking, and posturing on television. And we also see them in suits that costs thousands of dollars while fielding questions at press conferences. We know how many millions of dollars they make and we think they are rich, however, one should point out that they make nothing compared to the rich white guy who writes their checks. For all of their fame and endorsement deals they don’t own anything and African-Americans haven’t owned the franchises that they play in since Major League Baseball forced the Negro Leagues to disband.

 

Boxing, however, is different. As notorious as Don King is he ushered in a wave of black ownership that is needed not only in sports but in black communities as a whole. Most African-Americans live in neighborhoods that are economically underserved and the few businesses that we do have are owned by Arabs, Koreans, or Pakistanis. One could debate the reasons for this but one cannot debate the fact that it is true. What Don King was able to do was to put on completely black events from top to bottom: from the back of the house to the front of the house. That is to say from the athletes to the executive, which in Don King’s case was always him. By accomplishing this task King cut a hole in the ceiling, a hole which Al Haymon was able to walk right through.

Al Haymon is the manager (but more like a business partner) to Floyd Mayweather and a host of other very talented fighters in the sport of boxing. Like Don King he is from the Cleveland, Ohio but unlike Don King he does not exploit his fighters. He gives his fighters a larger cut of the profits than any other manager/promoter ever has. So much so that Floyd Mayweather once said; “If I would have had Al Haymon from the beginning [of my career] I probably would be a billionaire by now.” Al Haymon promoted the richest fight in boxing history: Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao. And Al Haymon is a black man. It would be impossible for one to imagine a black person or company producing the World Series, the Super Bowl, or even the NBA All Star game. Not only that, Al Haymond refused to allow Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, who is white, to get any percentage of the revenue from the fight. That would never happen in any other sport.

 

Chris Brown Vs. Soulja Boy will be brought to you entirely by Floyd Mayweather’s The Money Team/Mayweather Promotions so in essence to support this fight is to support black business. Black people spend an estimated 1.2 trillion a year on cars, jewelry, hotels, restaurants, and tickets to support sports franchises that do not belong to us. This fight is a rare exception.

 

As a fan of boxing and as a progressive African-American man that is tired of my culture clinging to the very bottom of American-Society. I’m tired of homicide and black male behavior being synonymous, I’m tired of the high rate of obesity among our children, and I’m tired of other people of color setting up shop in the black community selling us alcohol and inferior goods. Perhaps what I am most bothered by is how so many African-Americans take a natural attitude towards our own self-hatred and oppression. If Chris Brown and Soulja Boy have an intense exciting fight and then hug and show respect to one another after their fight is over, then maybe they will start a trend that will bring together the eight trays and rolling sixties of South Central Los Angeles and the black disciples and gangster disciples of the Southside of Chicago. Maybe young men will learn how to lose with honor instead of coming back to the block with a pistol and shooting at everything moving. If the winner of the fight can have pride and the loser remain dignified, then maybe young black men will choose life instead of death and seek freedom instead of incarceration. Maybe.

At any rate whether on pay per view or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas I will definitely be watching.

 

 

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A Fallen Warrior

Last Saturday I witnessed one of the more tragic things I’ve ever seen in my life. I saw a warrior quit fighting up close and personal. I was on hand September 8th at the Oakland Coliseum to see Andre Ward land just about every left hand that he threw to the face of Chad Dawson. I stood up in my seat and cheered for each of the three knockdowns that Andre Ward scored. But then after the 3rd one, the event got really sad for me.

It was at this point that Chad Dawson who had previously shown the heart and grit of an all time great boxer said, out of his own mouth, “I’m finished…I’m done” causing referee Steve Smoger to stop the fight. To his defense it was a really intelligent decision by Chad. After all he still has his belts at the 175-pound division and there was no way he was going to win the fight. I only wish that Dawson’s trainer John Scully would have thrown in the towel or that Smoger would have stopped the fight on his own because boxing, for better or for worse, is the only sport in which a man cannot quit under any circumstances. It is rather callous and undoubtedly barbaric but true fight fans expect their fighters to be willing to die in the ring in the same vein that citizens expect marines to be willing to die for their country. In other words one plays basketball, one plays soccer, and one plays baseball, but one does not play boxing because boxing is not a game.

If anyone knew this “Bad” Chad Dawson did. He knew it when he begged the ref to continue after he sustained a terrible cut over his right eye in the final rounds of his fight with Jean Pascal. He vehemently demanded that he be allowed to continue even as blood gushed down his face and onto his shoulder. Even though the fight was ultimately stopped and Dawson suffered his first loss, no one could be upset at how he behaved at the sight of his own blood. He was willing to fight to the death no matter what the consequence.

Chad knew the fighter’s code when he hovered over his then 46-year-old opponent Bernard Hopkins while Hopkins lay on the canvas with a dislocated shoulder and hurled expletives at him because he chose not to continue. After calling Hopkins a bitch and a pussy Dawson repeated during the post fight interview; “You don’t quit. I don’t care what happened. You don’t quit.” And then less than two years later—though in far less dramatic fashion—it was Chad’s turn to be logical.

Credit must be given to Andre Ward for cementing his claim to the Mayweather’s spot as top pound for pound fighter on the planet whenever Floyd decides to hang up the gloves. Ward put on a spectacular show against a world-class opponent. He touched up the taller Dawson on the outside and roughed him up on the inside. In the 8th round Ward landed an uppercut that sent Dawson’s blood flying several feet in the air. But Chad kept fighting. Even though he rarely landed a shot and never really hurt Ward he seemed determined to finish the fight for the sake of pride and pride alone. When the best young fighter in the world lands 83 punches to the right side of your face, however, the idea of pride becomes very relative.

So “Bad” Chad the former undisputed light-heavyweight champion of the world was reduced to whispering to the referee in a tone so low that it would have been inaudible were it not for HBO microphones; “I’m finished…yeah I’m done.” And as Smoger waved it off my elation for the victor quickly turned to despair for the fallen warrior. Dawson fought a brave fight but in the end he was forced to violate the lone rule that he held so dearly as a fighter. He was forced to quit for his own mental and physical wellbeing and it was the saddest thing this fight fan has ever seen in the ring.

YB

I Can’t Stay Away

3/10/12

This past Thursday, after nearly a year away, I found myself back in the boxing ring sparring with another fighter. The kid I was working with was very inexperienced. As a matter of fact it was only the 2nd time he had sparred in his life. I took it easy on him but at the same time I didn’t patronize him. I landed a few good shots just to let him know that we weren’t having a tea party.

I was very sloppy. My timing was off and my distance was atrocious but it felt good to be back on the main stage. You can only hit the heavy bag for so long until it becomes extremely boring. You can only hit the mitts for so many rounds until it becomes a farce of what an actual fight is like. When it comes to training for a boxer nothing is more important than sparring and there is no greater adrenaline rush. I can remember the very first time I sparred I was dead tired after two rounds but I was high for about a week. Now two years and four amateur bouts later I suppose I’m still trying to chase that first high.

I’ve become a fight junky; a functional boxaholic. I guess we all have our things. I don’t smoke, rarely drink alcohol, I don’t drink coffee at all, and I refuse to take aspirin unless I feel like I’m about to die, but there is something about the boxing gym that I can’t stay away from. I feel like the gym is the realist place on Earth where people don’t engage in passive aggressive behavior, and everyone says what they mean, and if you got a problem with it then there is always the ring. If you think your bad you had better be able to prove it and if you say you can fight then you had better really know how because you will definitely get knocked out.

What I hate about adult life is you spend half of the time restraining yourself so that don’t wind up in prison for beating the hell out of your boss, significant other, coworker, annoying person on the train, etc. At the gym, on the other hand, you can try to smash a man’s nose into his brain and when the round ends he’ll have no hard feelings because he was trying to do the same thing to you. Ahhh, if only life could always be so pure.

I love the craft of boxing. I love the smell of sweat and pine-solve that permeate the air (depending on what time it is) at my gym. I love having the ability to make a another trained fighter bleed, I love the pain in my neck after I’ve been caught with a clean shot, I love my “fight family” at the gym, and I love the way my hands look in my wraps as I shadowbox to the music being provided by KBLX. Boxing is my vice, boxing is my passion, and boxing is my love.

-YB

Notes on Muhammad Ali’s 70th Birthday

February 26, 12

I was on the treadmill at the gym last night when I just happened to catch a scene from Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday celebration on one of the plasma screens. It was a star-studded event with everyone from Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, to Evander Holyfield in attendance. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. Everyone was jovial and lively everyone except for the birthday boy himself who was confined to a wheelchair due to pugilistic Parkinson’s.

A lot of people who claim to be boxing historians will swear that Ali is the greatest boxer of all time and I’m not here to dispute that. What I do have a problem with is people who have never set foot in a boxing ring holding Ali up on a pedestal as the type of fighter that young fighters should try to emulate.

Let’s face it Ali with all of his speed, charisma, power, and originality took way too much punishment in his career. It’s never cool for a heavyweight champion to invite 200-pound men to hit him at full strength until they themselves get tired. Muhammad Ali is a very intelligent man but that is a very poor strategy, which is evidenced by his inability to talk right now or walk on his own.

I know people loved Ali for what he did outside of the ring as much as what he accomplished within the ropes but it’s not OK for us to say that someone like Floyd Mayweather will never be as good as Ali because Floyd has a defensive style. It’s not ok for fight fans to criticize Andre Ward and Chad Dawson for their unwillingness to have their brains beat in to please a crowd that doesn’t even regard them as human beings.

As I looked at Muhammad Ali shaking in his wheelchair I saw a champion who gave all that he had to the sport that he loves so dearly. But I also saw a man who should serve as an example of what young fighters should avoid at all costs. Boxers need to keep their hands up in the ring, develop a solid defense, and once you retire then you need to stay retired. Remember that even when the crowd chants your name they do not love you, all they really want is blood.

When all the cake has been eaten, the stage has been cleared, and people take off their fancy tuxedos and elegant nightgowns to go back to everyday life the champ will still be in a wheelchair. Above everything else, I think that’s very sad.

-YB

A Fighter’s Insecurities

January 25, 2012

Very strange things happen in a boxing gym; peculiar things that a person who has never been inside one would have a hard time believing. Like what occurred yesterday for example. I was moving around the heavy bag feeling real good. Working on my combinations while trying to adjust to having a new trainer when this very regal looking elderly gentlemen approached me. I saw him looking at me throwing my shots and I thought wow old dude must be really impressed. So I started throwing crisper more accurate blows.

 

So the guy, who obviously used to be a fighter, says to me; “Hey man, what are you about 140 pounds?” I smile and say yeah I’m about that. Then he shook his head in disapproval and said; “You need to get down to around 135,” and walked off.

 

That old son of a bitch! How dare he call me a fat ass. I spent the whole rest of my workout disappointed for eating one too many Oreo cookies the night before. I hate Oreos by the way. Every time I eat one it goes straight to my hips. And thus the great hidden secret of the boxing world is revealed. Boxing for all its hyper-masculine images of Mike Tyson knocking people through the ropes, Hagler and Hearns trying to kill each other, and Rocky Balboa drinking raw eggs at 5:00 in the morning, is the most effeminate sport in the world.

 

Men judge other men’s bodies constantly at the gym. Patrons say things like; “Damn you hella fat. How much you weighing now?” or “Damn you looking good. Do you have a fight coming up?” Sometimes I swear I’m in a girl’s locker room or a gay bar in The Castro district….Er erm, not that I’ve ever been inside either of those places I’m just trying to make a point. When people think about individuals that have poor self-images and low self-esteem they automatically conjure up a teenage girl starving herself to try to fit into a summer bikini but let me tell you, what a grown man puts himself through to make-weight for a boxing match is way worse. Let’s use this actual dialogue from my gym as an example;

 

“Damn how much you weigh now?”

“Shit I’m down to 150.”

“150! How you lose all that weight?”

“All I been eating is baby food and protein shakes.”

“Does it work?”

“Hell yeah look at me. I only got 9 more pounds to lose and I’ll be at my fighting weight.”

 

 

It’s an extreme problem. I find it to be very telling that a man is only allowed to be insecure in an institution where he is being trained in-depth on how to render another man unconscious. I also find it to be so ironic that a place can only be so macho until it begins to turn a little suspect. Like prison for example, the only place where societies toughest men can feel free to sleep with other men and not be judged harshly for it.

No but seriously I love boxing a lot. It’s just that I have a hard time getting used to hearing muscular men with tattoos talking to one another like a couple of women trying on clothes at the local department store. Before I started learning this craft I had no idea that fighters could be so insecure. So to all the boxers around the world I just want to remind you all to love yourselves. It’s OK to gain a few pounds here and there because your real beauty is on the inside. Be proud of who you are man. Be proud of what you look like.

LOL.

YB

 

 

The Plague of Quitting

October 25, 2011

I am fanatical about boxing. With that being said I am also a realist. Therefore I am fully aware that most Americans are unaware that the sport still exists, and probably about 25% of those who know wish that it didn’t. So it is for the oblivious masses of this country that I would like to briefly recount the latest fight that has made me sick to my stomach.

On October 15, 2011 a very decrepit 46-year-old fighter named Bernard Hopkins squared off against challenger and former undisputed champion Chad Dawson on pay-per-view. The fight started out very boring as the fighters felt each other out and made very little contact with one another. Then in the 2nd round controversy struck as Hopkins, who has been known to be a slightly dirty fighter, missed his opponent with a right hand and proceeded to climb onto his back. Dawson then lowered his shoulder which sent Hopkins falling to the canvass where he would remain for several minutes complaining of pain in his shoulder. The referee asked him could he go on and he said no. So the referee—well within his rights—ruled the fight a TKO victory for Dawson. Only to have that ruling overturned a few days ago by the WBC who decided to rule the fight a draw and allow Hopkins to keep his belt.

The truth is that Bernard Hopkins does not deserve to keep the belt and he needs to exercise his option of retiring from the sport immediately. In boxing you do not quit—period. If Hopkins corner wanted to throw in the towel then that would have been acceptable, if the referee would have stopped the fight then that would have been understandable, however, a fighter is never supposed to quit.

We all know that there is a serious economic crisis right now so how can Bernard Hopkins get paid $1,000,000 to behave like a coward. I hate to say it but boxing is not football where time stops because a man is injured, it’s not soccer where faking injuries are part of the game, and it’s not basketball where fouls are called every time players make serious contact with one another. On the contrary boxing is not merely a violent sport but rather boxing is violence. It is controlled, trained, beautiful, pure, violence. Furthermore boxing is combat and if you quit during combat then you are as good as dead.

In the past fighters have finished fights with broken arms, cut, bruised, blind, and out on their feet, but they finished. Nowadays fighters quit all the time and people condone it [see Devon Alexander vs. Timothy Bradley earlier this year]. Journalists condone it, ring analysts condone it and then they wonder why every fight fan under 25 would rather watch the UFC than suffer through a telecast of the ancient craft of boxing. I’m sure college students equate boxing with the medieval sports of fencing and jousting.  I’m sure they can’t name the heavyweight champion of the world, and I’m sure many of today’s young athletes can get a man in an armbar but can’t throw a basic jab. It shouldn’t shock anyone that the younger generation has quit on boxing because boxing quit on itself.

Bernard Hopkins is not a champion. He was at one point but now his career is over. Boxing needs to make some serious changes before the plague of quitting gets any worse.

-YB

A Cheap Knock Out

September 18, 2011

It’s been several hours now since the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Victor Ortiz ended and I still don’t know what to make of it. I’m still very puzzled as to why Mayweather behaved the way he did in the ring tonight. I’m even more perplexed by the sheer volume of journalists and regular people who have justified his actions via social media.

 

I understand that Ortiz head-butted Floyd and it was one of the more vicious head-butts I have ever seen, however, I can not justify Floyd’s cheap knock out of Ortiz on a left hook right hand combination that followed. And hey I understand the rules; “Protect yourself at all times” but to feign as if you are accepting someone’s apology by giving them a hug then taking a quick step back and unloading on them is just trashy.

 

This is boxing. This is not a fight between two inmates in a maximum security prison, or between two drunken college students in a bar. As a fan of the sport I expect a fighter to have a certain amount of class, and I expect for one of the greatest fighters of my generation to show some professionalism.

 

Referee Joe “Fair but Firm” Cortez had already taken away a point for Ortiz’ egregious foul so I figured Floyd Mayweather, who was already seemingly well on his way to a unanimous decision victory, would appreciate his ruling and get back to work. But Mayweather failed me. He failed the sport of boxing and he failed himself.

 

I’m really disturbed by what “Money May” did tonight. Tonight he lost at least one fan.

-YB