Last night my friend, BLH old timer Kevin Gonzalez rolled in to town, and he joined my fiance and I for the first ever boxing night at the Barclays Center. Now you all know the results, and I don't have much to add in terms of fight specifics that you haven't heard already. Instead, I want to focus on a personal response to the venue, the scene there, and how Brooklyn felt that night for the four fights that compromised the main portion of the card.
It was an easy fifteen minute walk there from my apartment in Clinton Hill. The venue itself is a love it or hate it affair. It looks for all the world the hulking wreck of a giant ship, scuttled kelson-up on the bottom of an urban sea--a kind of inverted architecture with a pre-rusted industrial scaffolding on the outside of the building, reminding me a bit of the contemporary art museum (The Pompidou) in Paris, except older looking, even though it was just erected. The rusted exterior contrasts with the ultra-high tech screenage that adorns the upper inside walls of the entry and dazzlingly bright complex of mega-screens hanging over the ring.
Passing security, I glanced to my right, and who was there but Zab Judah?--strangely, all alone (no posse whatsoever) dressed casually and just sauntering toward his seat, occasionally interrupted by fans for photos. Zab was notably low key but polite and gracious. This is not the man I have seen in the past. The maturity he's shown in recent interviews is reflected in his demeanor off camera as well.
We had good timing as Alexander vs. Bailey started just as we sat down. It was a horrid fight, with boos careening off the walls throughout. I was particularly disappointed, because this was my fiance's first live card, and I was worried about a bad first impression. There was nothing good to say about this snoozer, and the boos were as loud as I have heard them at any fight. Brooklyn may not get some things right--Mexican food, rental prices, parking, traffic regulation--but in terms of booing, Brooklyn has it going on.
Luckily, Quillin and N'Dam brought it. Although the mood in the crowd was still lacking, the boos stopped, the shouts for "Peter!" arose and we were treated to a solid, entertaining fight. In our section, Quillin had many fans, more than Paulie in fact, and he earned even more before the fight was through.
Malignaggi vs. Cano was sort of ... meh. It was more or less what we expected from Paulie against Senchenko in the Ukraine. Paulie looked game but underpowered, and what started as a vaguely pro-Bensonhurst crowd evolved into riotous support for Cano as the fight wore on. The boos emerged again when the scores were announced. We thought 114-113 was within the realm of possibility, and we actually agreed with Paulie that the the Compubox numbers looked off. I scored the fight 115-112 for Cano, though we weren't surprised by the final outcome, given the home field advantage.
Something of note: the venue made the bizarre choice of shutting everyone off from beer and liquor before Malignaggi vs. Cano even started. We were pissed, complained, and were told the venue always cuts off liquor sales just before the night was over. When I told a manager that there were likely 24 more rounds of boxing left, he first looked at me incredulously, then said something to someone on his walky-talky, and finally looked at me with exasperation and apologized. He told me they would work on the timing for the next boxing event. Clearly, it had been a long night for employees at the venue.
Morales vs. Garcia was sad but with a thrilling ending and what seemed to us at the time a sure-fire KO of the year contender. Though a head check suggested Mexican-Americans were outnumbered, there were more fans for Morales (of all stripes) than for any other fighter. This is as it should be, but it still somewhat surprised me. I expected more fans for Paulie there, but to me, they appeared to be the third largest contingency of fans, after Quillin and Morales'. This might have had something to do with Paulie's performance, I suppose, subduing what fans were there.
The venue was undersold but not as badly as I expected going in. I don't know what the official numbers are, but by the time it was over the place looked about two thirds to three quarters full to me. Not sure how many were comped in.
The fan atmosphere was a bit lacking. Maybe because there was no dominant fan base to carry the card, it wasn't as exhilarating as some live fights, but we did have a good time, despite being cut off from necessary fluid midway through, and Brooklyn was hopping afterwards. Union Standard, a bar in Park Slope, was a great scene, keeping us up until three in the morning catching up on what we missed at the Barclays, which was, after all was said and done, mainly beer.