Down to the Judges

By Rey Armenteros

I tell people I was there, watching the fight. The massive screen was blaring through the windows, past the cheers inside. It was a triple event. I was at a birthday party that happened to be on Mexican Independence Day, and that night was the high-profile bout on pay-per-view. My neighbor had just installed the pool, and he was living it up this birthday, granting this pool party for all his close associates and loved ones. I was meeting more of his family members than I had met at the last party, and we danced to mariachis celebrating his birthday and the birth of Mexico as a modern nation. It was really overwhelming, and I was there.

Then it was time for the rematch! I stayed in the pool area with a couple of others while everybody else went inside for the main event. I could see them through the sliding glass door screaming at the set. My neighbor’s son and I were having a deep conversation about life and his time in Mexico. He was talking about his long journey, when his father was filling out the paperwork to bring him to the US. We were talking about life and the rules you had to follow in life and how oftentimes the very laws that are crucial to our lives come down to paid professionals that either know your case or don’t. Holy shit! this was sobering me up even with all the hollering in the background.

So, I was technically in the patio, and I did not see a single jab or bodyblow. I could see the video colors of the screen flashing through the silhouettes of the spectators, and about everybody there swore I watched the rematch, as they were coming out once the fight was over, hooting and lauding the unexpected results. It went the full twelve rounds. It had gone down to the judges and their scores. Everybody swore they were going to give it to Triple G, like they did it last time when again they went through twelve rounds and no knockout, but it didn’t happen that way. Canelo, the Mexican boxer, had covered Triple G with bodyblows, and the judges reacted. A welcome result for Mexican Independence!

They were explaining it to me as they were filtering back into the pool area. Canelo was a counterblow fighter. He waited for you to come to him and then reacted to you. Triple G was an attacker. That is how he won over the judges when they went to twelve rounds last time. This time, Canelo stunned the audience with a reverse in his strategy, and this is the part I found fascinating! He was on the attack. Triple G, as it was described to me, looked confused. Canelo got more punches in, including a battery of body blows. The judges had no other recourse but to recognize who was on top in the fight.

Why find such things fascinating when I don’t even like boxing? It wasn’t just about psyching the other guy out. It was about coming up with a winning strategy and being one step in front of the other guy. Imagine if Triple G resorted to a different strategy. Canelo’s plan would have gone out the window. But what if he was sure Triple G would do the same thing again because it was something that worked last time, and why fix a good thing? That might have been what cemented the change of strategy for Canelo. He would have had to not only think about doing it differently, but I imagine his training would have to reflect this too, and the real psych out would be the one of him trying to psych himself out, trying to become a different fighter, going through different routines.

Maybe Triple G wasn’t thinking at all; he just went with whatever was natural to him, uncompromising attacks. What if that was all he knew? I do believe the real winning move would be in deciding what kind of fighter Triple G was going to be in this second match. Canelo would have had to recognize on what level Triple G was playing and if Triple G was also switching his strategy according to what Canelo might be thinking of doing.

I am thinking of a little kid’s game of having the other kid guess which hand has the marble. After going through one round, if the one holding the marble were trying to be clever by keeping it in the same hand, the savvy kid would know it. If the kid chose a different hand thinking that the other kid expected him to be clever and keep the marble in the same hand, the kid that would know that about his opponent would guess correctly. The point was that you had to guess at what level the kid was playing.

Then again, it could have been nothing more than something as simple as Canelo using Triple G’s strategy because that was what worked in the first bout. It could also be that there aren’t that many strategies to choose from in boxing. There is the type of fighter that plays defensive, the type that favors coming in low or high, and the one that likes to keep his distance or clench to deliver the little kidney jabs. How many other possibilities are there? When you put accomplished fighters in the ring, they are going to bring their ultimate strategy, and maybe there is no choice in the matter because you have to pick the thing you’re best at, and everyone will know it, even the people like me that don’t know boxing, who are informed by the propaganda machine for such an event that educates the audience so that they have something in which to sink their teeth. I am sure it is something like that.

As we were getting back in the swimming pool, I was picking up the talk and able to describe what I saw of the fight. I didn’t even know what the two boxers looked like, and I was absorbing the excitement and letting the alcohol do much of the talking for me. I was so excited, who would have questioned me?

On Monday, they were asking me if I saw the fight when I was picking up my cup of coffee to start the day, and I was not lying when I said it was amazing, spouting off the mechanics behind the results as if I had known both men’s careers since before the first match. I was keeping my conversation rather long, giving a full summary, almost overcompensating for missing every little thing about it.

But I was there. I have no doubt about it. I was there, and I saw nothing. It is like calling a witness to the stand who was present during an incident but who was actually at an angle that would have given the witness no information whatsoever, and yet they call him anyway, and he states his observations, and they take them seriously. Or it is like the witness that was not there at all. They have a name for such people that know not a thing about the incident but deliver what they have learned over time is the more probable causes to an event. They are called expert witnesses.

Rey Armenteros is a Los Angeles-based painter and writer who writes the blog, Through Concentrated Breath. He has pieces forthcoming in Magnolia Review, Umbrella Factory Magazine, and Still Point Arts Quarterly.

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