Boxing


Hard Knocks and Hard Shots at the Hard Rock

26.02.06 - by Jarrett Blakeley: When I arrived at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, I was still a bit hung over from my company outing the night before. Don’t ever let someone tell you that finance geniuses can’t drink, because we can and will. I must have thrown down about twenty shots of Patron Thursday night and I was like the eighth drunkest person in my crew. I still made it in at 8:50 Friday morning, because as you know, I’m a legend. On account of my hangover I decided that I was going to start drinking. I was going to start early and I was going to drink hard. This night had Gonzo written all over it.

I got my press pass and made haste to the first bar I saw. The ‘bartender’ was a cute 23 year-old blonde named Ashley, “One Chivas and Coke, please.” I chatted her up a little bit and I knew then that this would be my base of operations for the next several hours. I grabbed another drink before I went inside and gave her a nice tip because I felt bad that such a pretty girl was working at a concession stand in an arena.

I didn’t waste much time before approaching the ring card girls and showing them my previous Hard Rock article, in which they played a major role.. Unfortunately, Natalie wasn’t there this time, but my buddy Oona O’Connell was. She was going on and on about how funny and talented I am, and who could blame her? By the way, mark your calendars for May 2006 when she will be featured in Playboy Magazine. Also, Oona was complimenting me on my new Tiffany cufflinks and telling what a good dresser I am, which is true, I do have style. Now I’ll probably get even more, ‘You’re a faggot’ emails than I got from my last article.

I started to make the rounds and ran into a surprisingly jolly Roberto Duran who now resembles sort of a Panamanian Santa Claus. From ‘Manos de Piedra’ to ‘Estómago de Krispy Kreme’ in a little over a decade, Duran was clearly the biggest star in a star-studded crowd, with virtually everyone in the arena trying to shake his hand and get his autograph. I was a bit star-struck myself when we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Sitting beside Duran were Zab Judah and his father who I spoke to briefly. I used to work out at the same gym as Zab (Gleason’s in Brooklyn) and we chatted about some of the legendary sparring sessions that went down in the no-frills Brooklyn boxing mecca. Zab looked like he was having a blast, and he was, of course, rocking diamonds on the top.

I noticed the first fight was under way when the bell rang and two fighters came crashing into the ropes not far from where I was standing (by the ring card girls). Juan Lamberti (5-0-1, 3 Kos) and Julio Jean (7-7-1, 3 KOs) went toe to toe for most of the first round, with Jean landing a particularly solid uppercut at one point. This fight was stopped in the second round because of a cut over Jean’s eye. In the next fight, Joel Casamoyer scored a fifth round knockout over Antonio Ramirez. Casamoyer is 34, but he looked pretty good from what I can remember and he may have some fight left in him. We shall see.

After this fight I began walking around, reading everyone’s nametags, looking for someone interesting to talk to. I had already drunk 4 Chivas Cokes and 2 beers, but I still hadn’t consumed any tequila. I tried the bar, but all they had was Cuervo. There is no excuse for this. I can’t even drive past a Cuervo billboard on 95 without hurling all over my car. This was a hard time. This was a vodka time. And another beer, of course. So I had a drink in each hand and I was reading everybody’s passes when I see Bob Marley, Jr. I walked up to him in his front row seat and said,

Me: “You’re Bob Marley, Jr.”
BM: “Yeah.”
Me: “Bob Marley is your dad?”
BM: “Yes.” (nodding)
Me: “That’s f**king awesome!”
BM: “He’s a legend.”
Me: “He’s a f**king legend!”

Surprisingly, I don’t think Bob Marley, Jr. was all that impressed with me. It was cool to meet him though, because I’m a huge Marley fan. Who isn’t, right? Then I saw Sultan Ibragimov, the Russian Heavyweight. I introduced myself and we shook hands. I asked him if he was going out after the fight but he had no idea what I was talking about because he’s Russian and I don’t think he speaks much English. He must have thought I was pretty drunk though because he pointed at me and made the drinking motion with his hand, laughing. I like the Sultan, I hope he keeps kicking ass. I went back over to the ring card girls as I looked to maybe close a deal or two. This new girl Crystal is hot as hell. Apparently she won her ring card girl spot in some sort of ring card girl competition. She’s 19, she’s beautiful and I think she was pretty intrigued by yours truly. She gave me her number and made me promise to call her. Bond. James Bond.

The next fight was Ricky Quiles (38-6-3, 8 KOs) v. Jeremy Yelton (17-4, 8 KOs) of Forest City, NC. Quiles was dominated early by Yelton, but pulled out an unpopular eight round decision which drew boos from the crowd. I thought the fight was pretty even. More Yelton early, more Quiles late. Either way, it was a pretty good brawl. I went back to patrolling the VIPs and approached some guy I thought was ‘Panama’ Lewis. I was going on and on, calling him ‘Panama’ and talking about his fighters and stuff, and he goes, “You know, I’m not ‘Panama’ Lewis.” I felt dumb, yet I persevered. After all, I’m a legend. By the time I saw the real ‘Panama’ Lewis, I was so drunk, I was going on and on to him about his heart attack. I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy. ‘Panama’ Lewis knows a lunatic when he sees one.

In the main event, Glen Johnson (43-10-2, 29 KOs) took on Richard Hall (27-5, 25 KOs). This fight was for the IBA Light Heavyweight title, and was quite entertaining. Glen Johnson consistently landed the better shots throughout this fight, although Hall settled in after a while to land some good punches of his own. Hall was forced to take a standing eight count in the second round and couldn’t keep Johnson off of him enough to win many rounds. Johnson earned a unanimous decision, and looks to step up his competition in the coming months. Glen Johnson is the best light heavyweight in the world, and its no wonder none of the other titleholders want to fight him. When I saw him outside Pangaea after the fight, he looked happy and relaxed. You wouldn’t even have thought he had fought except for the bleeding cut above his hairline. I talked to him for a couple minutes, and he was as nice and cool a guy as you will ever meet. Glen Johnson is the man.

After talking to Glen I went into Pangaea, the always bumping, always happening Hard Rock nightclub. The girls in there were amazing, and pretty much all of them were flirting with me hard, just hoping to be lucky enough to come back with me. This was the time for some tough decision-making. After all, I take Friday night hookups pretty seriously. This wasn’t just going to be some quick Monday night fling. I stepped up my game and went back with a 21 year old college student from Plantation, to whom I’d like to give a special thanks. 21 year old college girls are truly amazing people, I will always have time for them.

Jarrett Blakeley can be reached at jarrettblakeley@yahoo.com

Article posted on 26.02.2006



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