Most of the boxing world has moved on since the slap and tickle excitable duo Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga indulged in at their press conference but I can’t quite shake it. Why? Well I’m trying to conjure a more contrived exchange from the long list of press events that have ended in controversy and fisticuffs in recent years. True the two looked pretty genuinely annoyed with one another in the end, but the opening gambit in the push-me-pull me was a feeble back hand slap from Mayorga and suggested more than a little choreography was involved.
The best I could summon was the ill-conceived face off between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, a event in which Tyson drew the champion’s blood, insulted and threatened just about every member of the press in the building and finished like the frightened, cornered animal he proved to be come fight night. Tyson was a natural at this stuff. Though his quality usually meant such shallow promotion wasn’t required.
Tyson always maintained the face off was pre-meditated and discussed by the two campsto help fuel interest in the fight. If it was, nobody told Lewis who reacted with surprise but no mean force to Tyson’s approach. Some argue the fight was won and lost at that moment. Certainly, no stone was left unturned in making that fight the most lucrative it could be for both fighters and the other interested parties.
It also brought to mind Lennox’s curious talk show wrestle with Hasim Rahman, again more than a whiff of choreography.
Of course, fighters like Lewis and Tyson shouldn’t, and largely didn’t need to resort to such cheap tactics. Mayorga and Vargas, in the twilight of their careers, and as known for their antics outside the ring as in it, realise their contest – made at a comfortable 162 pounds and reported as Vargas’ last regardless of the outcome – needs the oxygen of publicity. Few fights between veterans where both come from losses and one concedes retirement beckons capture fan attention naturally.
The brawl at the press conference, which left Mayorga with a split lip and the fight with a popular YouTube.com entry, served to alert the boxing fraternity that the bout is on the horizon when it threatened to slip past unnoticed.
So predictable and shallow it may have been, but it has proved effective too.