“What’s the use of being Irish if you can’t be thick [i.e. stupid]?”
This was said to a reporter after he made the mistake of going for the knockout in his fight against Joe Louis in round 13, which subsequently lead to him getting knocked out himself. The judges had Con leading on the score cards up to that point. Conn had been a light heavyweight champion before taking on the challenge of becoming the wold heavyweight champion. Although he never achieved the crowned jewel of boxing, Joe Louis later joked that Conn had held the title for 12 rounds but gave it up.
So I’m in NYC for the Michael Conlan pro debut tonight and the GGG vs. Daniel Jacobs fight tomorrow night. And well, it’s Saint Patrick’s Day for forgive me if this is not as well researched as prior editions, I’m trying to make this quick and head out and see the parade. I slept in late today so I got desperate and took my first NY cab to Madison Square Garden to try and see the GGG vs. Jacobs weigh in and face off. Of course I missed it, so I look at that cab ride as a $30 opportunity to make new friends with a Bangladeshi. I told him all about my experience with his country during my trip after the Bengal Bouts. Neat experience right? Yay New York! So it’s less than ideal that I brought my laptop out with me to the MSG area, which is not where I’m staying (financial district MBN! with roomies past of Fisher Hall), and will have to carry it around with me whatever I do today. So I’m going to try and jam this out quick and figured I’d just include the below which were thoughts I jotted down while on the plane Wednesday.
“Michael Conlan is about to make his pro debut and is already the top billing on a show that’s promoted entirely around him?
How is this the case?
We’ll it’s St. Patrick’s day so it’s certainly a ripe opportunity for Top Rank to take advantage of as they debut the 25 year old two time Irish Olympian.
What drives a particular fighter to be immediately high profile in this business?
First and foremost the kid has got to have skills. But sometimes it’s the intangibles that will influence a boxers ability to be sold to fans?
What’s the back story? Well Conlan broke into the news cycle last summer in Rio after his double middle finger display for the judges that robbed him of a decision.
I do not want to overstate the amount to which this got him signed but it certainly played a role (Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and Conlan reenacted the pose at signing day) and Conlan even made note of the circumstantial lemons-to-lemonade scenario. Not to mention Mick’s stablemates, brother Jamie Conlan (19-0,11KOs) and Olympic teammate Paddy Barnes, are both in Ireland fighting for local promotions, while Mick is training in Los Angeles and signed to the largest American boxing promoter and headlining a heavily promoted show in his pro debut!
Boxing is filled with nationalistic pride. Think about it in a sport where you don’t have the perennial professional clubhouse (the team name) the national or ethnic pride supplements this lack of team banners. For example, year after year players will come and go but year after year you know you’re a Dodger fan. Come springtime you’ll have to learn a few new names, and it might take you some time to catch up with the new roster, but you will be anchored to your blue banner. The boxing business both faces a problem with this absence and simultaneously has a unique relationship with cultural and home country pride. ”
Now as I sit in this Starbucks holding back the coffee* that is pressing on my bladder I reflect on this concept:
You see it in NY when they always put a Puerto Rican fighter on the card the same weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. You see it for Mexican fighters every year. Any idea why the undeserving Julio Cesar Chaves JR got to be the one to fight Canelo Alvarez next? Well that’s because it’s on May 6th, Cinco De Mayo weekend. Pair the two biggest young Mexican stars together and you have the biggest money making opportunity for that weekend. Pay Per View sales from even non boxing fans will be huge for that fight. Because if you’re hosting a party and you don’t have that playing it’s a tough look, where’s your Raza pride? That’s the idea. Boxing is interesting like that. And I love it. Tonight at Michael Conlan’s fight were going to see a Catholic fighter from Belfast walk in the ring with the tricolour. Were going to see Northern and Southern Irish alike who’ve traveled in for this event party and celebrate this sport and this day. And we’re going to see plenty of Irish-Americans like me who are looking for something to get behind in droves supporting an exciting new pro,
*by the way it’s a terrible system if I’m roaming around the city and need to pee I have to pop into the few places that have customer restrooms–likely cofee shops–and buy well a coffee. The vicious cycle repeats.
Thanks for reading. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Remember you can actually eat meat today. Arch Bishop (Bro)se Gomez of LA gave us dispensation because St. Patrick was such an important saint who brought Christianity to Ireland. Also an immigrant, although captive really. Respect immigrants today and every day, as a large part of what we’re celebrating today is really our Irish immigrant history, many of us.
See you for Boxing TL;DR next Friday!