Dubai: Sylvester Stallone owes me an apology. I’ve grown up watching those Rocky films believing all fights feature scary characters like Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago and they beat the snot out of each other. But, at my first bout last night at the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm, I was foolish to expect a Hollywood-style ending to any of the contests, not least the main event between Austin ‘No Doubt’ Trout and Alejandro Davila.
Their junior middleweight fight had all the ingredients to be a silver screen movie; an ageing former champion tries to make a comeback against an up-and-coming outsider... but it severely lacked in one key aspect – drama. Trout was taken the distance by his Mexican opponent but it wasn’t until the 9th and final 10th rounds when they began laying a glove on each other. Up until then, they were trying to work each other out and avoided being dragged into a slugging match.
For the casual viewer, such as I, this was rather tedius. And with my view constantly blocked by several cameramen filming the action on the edge of the ring - not to mention a severe lack of razzmatazz throughout the entire evening - I left at the end feeling cheated. “That’s not what happens in the movies” I thought to myself as Trout raised his gloves to improve to 34-5-1. There were no telling blows, nobody hit the canvas, nobody was out for the count. Disappointing.
But, I guess I view boxing in the same way that some of my friends view football, with very little interest. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a hefty jab and uppercut because aside from watching Stallone I also used to wait with my brother and sister in the UK for those 3am fights to watch Mike Tyson over in the US brutally pummel his challengers. Those fights would be over inside 40 seconds but they were well worth staying up for because of the sheer drama, excitement and hype. And I’ve seen all the videos of the greatest of them all, Ali.
We’ll never have characters like that again (it’s thanks to them that I learnt to punch which came in handy during my Sunday League football days in London where opposing teams turned up for a fight rather than a football match…) Last night was Trout’s second bout this year - after beating Juan Armando Garcia Galvan in February - and he was in control from the beginning to the end but he clearly wasn’t interested in entertaining the sparse crowd.
I then raced home to catch the Brentford vs Arsenal match which was unpredictable and thrilling from minute one. Don’t get me wrong – I like boxing, but by that I mean those movies with those ridiculously unbelievable scripts. The real thing was as disappointing as those burgers advertised in fast food restaurants. Big and juicy in the photos, when you unwrap them they’re as flat as pancakes. Much like all the fights last night.