Monday, January 23, 2012

My Night at the Roseland Ballroom

I walked into the Roseland Ballroom with my blue wristband, indicating that I was a member of the media. I walked into the cozy room and took it all in, sitting mere feet from the boxing ring. Finally, I asked an usher where I could go. He said, "Well, I know the blue wristband means you can go in here." He was talking about being inside the metal gates that separate the immediate ringside from the rest of the room. My eyes widened.

But he wanted to check. He asked a more senior usher who pointed to a table just outside of the metal gate. I stalked the table, noticing recognizable names and saw "Thomas Hauser," Mike Coppinger," and "Mitch Abramson." But I couldn't find my own.

I asked another usher and he advised me to ask the box office guys. They told me there was a row in the back on the stage. I informed the clueless ushers who thanked me profusely for clearing up the confusion. So, the seats weren't ringside, but they were pretty great... and free! Pretty good for a guy who started a blog about Jewish boxers two years ago, which, by the way, has been rated as the seventh best ethnic-specific boxing blog on the internet by Made Up Boxing Magazine.

In the first fight, Alex Perez KOed an over-matched and much-smaller Josh Sosa. It would be the only KO of the night. The next fight involved two women heavyweights. Both were listed as over 200 pounds. Being only two thirds of their weight fostered some weird attraction to them within me. It turned out to be an entertaining scrap that correctly ended in a draw. I thought Carlette Ewell won the first three rounds and the hometown favorite, Sonya Lamonakis, won the final three. When the decision was announced, Ewell despicably taunted Lamonakis. It made me sad for the state of boxing.

Thomas Hardwick, an affable man of great popularity if not talent, earned a decision over the winless Richard Mason. I've watched both fight before. Last May, Hardwick took on an opponent who didn't want to be there and had trouble getting rid of him. Mason has some talent, but his performances were uneven both times I've watched him. If he was the least bit consistent, he wouldn't be half-bad.

The next fight was half of the reason why I was there. Ran Nakash, the Israeli former title challenger, dominated nearly every second of his fight against the tough Derek Bryant. Danny McDermott and Terry Butterbaugh fought to a draw. I've watched Butterbaugh fight before also. He is awkward and sometimes looks out of place in the ring. At other times, the kilt-wearing fighter shows some ability. He's 1-0-1 when I'm in the audience.

Hot prospect Luis Del Valle had a less-than-stellar showing against veteran Jose Angel Beranza. Newt Gingrich won South Carolina and I took care of my Fantasy Prez stuff. Then, Boyd Melson fought Sean Rawley Wilson and won in Ran Nakash-like fashion. I missed most of the Monaghan-Bailey fight writing up the Nakash and Melson bouts. Much of the crowd left afterwards, an indication of Monaghan's extensive and passionate following.

In theory, I'm against ring card girls. I feel it's demeaning to women and brings out the worst in men. In reality, the blonde girl smiled at me!

In the main event, DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley fought Gabriel "Tito" Bracero. I was rooting for the DC-native, Corley, who was a heavy underdog. Bracero was undefeated and fighting at home. Chop Chop was on a 6-fight losing streak and had lost 8 of his last 9 bouts. I was his only fan in the room.

Corley managed to hurt Bracero early and often. He knocked down Tito three times. In the eighth, the light-punching Bracero buckled Corley. Referee Eddie Claudio called it a knockdown. After the round, I shook my head in disgust at the ref when he glanced in my direction. But Corley won by unanimous decision, although the scores were way too close. Corley ended up winning because of the knockdowns.

After driving up to New York all afternoon in some kind of rainy slush, it was time to head home. There was the walk to the subway. The realization that I had somehow entered the right and wrong subway entrance (right line, wrong direction). The subway took me to Penn Station, which I walked around several times before finding the NJ Transit area. The train took me to Metropark.

At this point it was 2am. I traversed the Metropark parking lot. I had written my parking space "3327" on the ticket. I found "3369" and then "3367." I figured that would take me to my car. I followed the numbers despite not seeing any car in the row. I found "3329." The next space was marked "4327." I badmouthed the arbitrary numbering and raced one level below. It was 5:30am when I got home from a great night of boxing.

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