Growing up like many Americans I lived in a sports-obsessed home, my Dad turned my .brother and I on to the major sports.Mostly baseball and basketball, but I definitely remember everyone getting together for boxing’s mega fights. I recall watching fights like Tyson vs Spinks, Holyfield vs Buster Douglas, Leonard VS Hearnsand Leonard VS Lalonde. I thoroughly enjoyed these fights and loved how a mega fight brought fight finds of all stripes together the casual fan and the boxing junkie. One night stands out, in particular, the night I feel in love with the sweet science. I recall it like it was yesterday. It was Friday, November 13th, 1992, I was barely 9 years old, and through my tired bloodshot 9-year-old eyes I was witnessing the first of one of boxing’s greatest trilogies. Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe, being originally from NY, I was supposed to root for Bowe, and initially I was, however as the younger of two brothers, with a major little brother complex, I saw this fearless little warrior, full of nuts and guts outweighed by 35 pounds taking the fight to “Big Daddy”. My allegiance changed over the course of that night, watching the back and forth relentless action of a fairly even fight, entering the 10th round, I witnessed something I will never forget. Holyfield was hurt badly with an uppercut and was battered from pillar to post for the next two minutes. Something magically happened towards the end of that round and that Little 200 pound warrior had the 235 pound beast of a man on his heels.
In the 11th round, Holyfield was floored, with what I still swear was a shot to the back of the head that should not have been ruled a knockdown. Holyfield was able to survive, as the fight came to end. The moments before the scorecards were read off, my dad looked at me and said, don’t get your hopes up Holyfield lost, and he did, but just like in the original Rocky, it didn’t matter I saw something I will never forget, way cooler than a last second game winning 3pointer or a walk-off home run. I saw two guys push themselves to their absolute limits and leave it all in the ring, for the greatest prize in sports, that fight for sure took something out of both fighters.
It lit a fire in me. 12 months later Holyfield avenged that loss and for 12 rounds took the fight to the much larger Bowe and picked his spots to slug and his spots to outbox the bigger foe, and after 12 rounds and a bizarre parachuter landing in the ring, The Real Deal had requited his lone defeat at that time. Unlike most kids my superheroes weren’t Superman or Batman, they were real life superheroes like Evander Holyfield that little fearless warrior and Pernell Whitaker, avoiding and eluding every shot like a magician and Julio Caesar Chaves,coming out of nowhere to stop Meldrick Taylor with 2 seconds left. Watching this era of boxing set something off in me and I said ” oh yea I need to do that” after a few years of a less than outstanding amature boxing career. I went back to it being a spectator sport. However, something remained the same, boxers are the most special athletes, in the world. They are real life superheroes and the sport of boxing is hands down, bar none far and away the greatest sport in the world. We all have that moment that we fell in love with the sweet science. What’s yours?