Home Boxing News El Paso shows grit against unfair call

El Paso shows grit against unfair call

El Paso is leading on all scorecards going into the 12th and final round.

The Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. duel in the desert with Andy Lee might well happen and it might well happen in the Sun Bowl. But, remember, a lot of fighters have led on all scorecards going into the final round — only to be knocked out.

There is still a bit of work to be done.

The week began so simply, a normal sun-splashed spectacular spring day … a press conference set up in the Sun Bowl on Tuesday to promote the fight, to announce that tickets would go on sale the following Saturday. It was to be such a festive occasion on June 16 — fights and fireworks and fun … a reprise of that joyous (windy but joyous) celebration on June 13, 1998, when El Paso’s rock star Oscar De La Hoya dispatched Patrick Charpentier in front of an announced crowd of 45,368 in that same Sun Bowl.

And then logic left town.

Poor Decision

Francisco Cigarroa, the chancellor of the UT System, made a very poor decision. We can only assume he was acting in good faith, acting on some information he had obtained. The man probably thought he was just cancelling a fight card out in the desert; probably thought few would care.


First, this proud fighting city loves its boxing. It was a fight card. We’ve had hundreds here over the years — all without major incident. It is simply part of the calendar year in El Paso. We get two or three or four good fight cards, televised on HBO or Showtime or Telefutura or whatever, each year.

And this has a chance to be a special fight. Chavez Jr. is enormously popular — because of his good looks, because of his father’s name and especially because of his exciting fighting style. He is 45-0-1 with 31 knockouts and he is the WBC middleweight champion of the world. Irishman Andy Lee, 28-1 with 20 knockouts, is a 6-foot-2, southpaw, a dangerous challenger.

Naturally, the fight fans of this city erupted.

Bloody Nose

But secondly — and more importantly — Cigarroa’s action inferred El Paso is unsafe. It is a label this city has to fight every day. Because of the tragedies in Mexico, this city fights it in trying to secure events. Because of that violence, UTEP fights it in recruiting athletes in every sport. Cigarroa’s verdict gave this entire city a bloody nose.

The entire city erupted — citizen by citizen, politician by politician.

And a bloody nose is nothing to this proud city. El Pasoans are used to taking punches. We are isolated. We are in the desert. We are part of Mexico. We are part of New Mexico. It is too hot. It is too windy. It is too dusty.

But those who live here — who see beautiful sunny day upon beautiful sunny day, who see 65 degree winter days and shrug off those three or four brown-out spring days — are simply not going to take it … not going to back off because of a bloody nose.

Our city officials, our politicians got the decision reversed. They all stepped up. They fought.

Bob Arum deserves credit, too. He is a businessman and he saw a good opportunity for his business — Chavez Jr. in the Sun Bowl. It made sense. The timing is right, just as it was for De La Hoya at that stage of his career.

But then logic left town.

The Toyota Center in Houston was on hold. Arum, who is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and one of the true legends of the sport, could have bolted.

But he liked his original idea and he liked the fight he saw in El Paso.

One round remains. El Pasoans must find a way to win this final round, to get alcohol sales approved in the Sun Bowl. The UT Board of Regents had to approve it for the De La Hoya festival in the Sun. Perhaps El Pasoans can get them to do it again.

If that happens, El Paso wins a unanimous decision and the fight and the fun goes on Saturday, June 16, in the Sun Bowl with millions watching on HBO, between 80 and 100 countries seeing El Paso’s passion for boxing, seeing El Paso for what it is — a warm and gentle city, one of the safest cities in the nation.

A gentle city that shrugs off a bloody nose, that has known how to hook off the jab since birth, can win a unanimous decision.


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