By Jorge Antonio Vallejos:
Article posted on 24.07.2009
My whole crew would come over
to watch the big fights. My small room would
fill up with young men sitting on chairs,
the floor, and sprawled on my bed; all eyes
focusing on an old 25” screen. Pizza, pop,
beer, and chips were put back during
many memorable undercard bouts:
Erik “El Terrible” Morales bulldozing Angel “Avispa” Chacon,
Diego “Chico” Corrales pounding his first title out of Roberto Garcia,
“Poison” Junior Jones on his last legs, his last night on the big stage,
leaving his heart in the ring against Paul Ingle at Madison Square Garden.
There’s one night and fight I’ll never forget:
Las Vegas, June 22, 2002,
Fernando Montiel vs. Pedro Alcazar,
both Latino, both champions, both 25 and 0,
Alcazar “El Rockero” defending his WBO Super Flyweight Title,
The famous line: “Somebody’s O’s got to go!”
Brown versus Black,
both fighters leaving their homes
for the Promised Land, the ring,
not knowing if they’ll ever go back.
Alcazar flown to *El Norte from Panama,
sacrifice, hopes, desires, his big break—
fighting on the undercard of one of
the years most anticipated bouts:
Morales vs Barrera 2—
The American Dream
Walking out to the ring
accompanied by loud Rockero tunes,
“Panama Hard Rockers” buzzed on to the sides of
his head, small dreads looking fly,
wearing red gloves and shiny white trunks
matching legendary ring announcer
Michael Buffer’s slick suit,
7 years, 27 fights, 167 rounds, 14 KOs
behind him, the confidence of a champion
in his swagger, his stare, his posture.
his thick calves flexing with
every step, every punch,
Montiel trying to counter
his every move.
Montiel gets aggressive,
beating Alcazar to the punch,
landing double hooks and one-two-three’s,
pinning Alcazar on the ropes,
wailing on him for a good while.
Alcazar picks up the pace,
the champ on the attack,
going for the body, turning
it into a fight, his fight.
Champion and challenger
dance around each other,
watching every step,
every hand movement—
human chess—one wrong move and
months of running, pad work,
HBO Boxing Analyst Larry Merchant
expresses worry about Alcazar
dehydrating for the fight. “Fourteen percent” of his
body weight being sacrificed.
“All lighter weight fighters practice dehydration,” says
HBO Expert Commentator George Foreman.
The champion’s energy levels drop,
low blows and head-butts land,
rocking “The Rocker”.
Alcazar’s corner in between rounds:
his back against the turnbuckle,
his face showing fatigue, distress, confusion,
his trainer yelling,
“You feeling tired? What’s going on? Tell me. Show some balls!”
circling the ring,
back against the ropes,
“There must be something wrong with Alcazar,” says Foreman.
Punch after punch landing for Montiel:
right hands, body shots, hooks, and uppercuts
rattling the champion’s insides.
Gloves over his face, hunched over, knees bending,
his bottom grazing the second rope,
no return fire.
“Over a minute in the sixth, Alcazar hasn’t thrown a punch in the round!”
says HBO Head Commentator Jim Lampley
1:16 left in the round,
Referee Kenny Bayless stepping in,
shielding “El Rockero”, stopping the assault,
the Panamanian’s head titled back, hanging over the top rope,
once mimicking his idol, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran,
now looking like his Lord and Saviour with
his arms stretched out on the ropes that hold him up along with
Bayless who hugs the felled warrior
taking out his mouth-piece then
walking/carrying him to the corner.
The Mexicans celebrating,
hugs, kisses, cheers,
the winner’s hands raised,
Team Montiel posing for flashing cameras.
Alcazar woozy, shaking his head,
wiping his eyes and nose as Dr. Margaret Goodman
checks on him, the defeated, now former champion,
limp on his stool, a small, concerned crowd
hovering over him.
I wrap my hands to the sound of
bags being hit, ropes smacking the ground,
push-ups, sit-ups, and chin-ups; my trainer saying,
“I heard he dropped in the shower and never woke up.”
Blurbs in newspapers, magazines, websites…
Forgotten like those who fall off trains, drown in rivers,
get beaten to death by *las maras, suffocate in the back of trucks,
chasing the dream.
rewind to see him one last time,
rewind to pray for his soul,
rewind so he’ll live just a little longer.
For Pedro Alcazar (1975-2002) and all the fallen soldiers of the Sweet Science.
*Chico: kid; young boy; small
*El Norte: the North; the USA
*El Rockero: The Rocker
*El Terrrible: The Terrible
*Las maras: the gangs
For questions, comments, and criticism email Jorge Antonio Vallejos at firstname.lastname@example.org