I have a confession to make.
“Hey,” I said to a friend today, “I have to apologize, I said I’d get back to you about something, and I’ve fallen a bit behind, so I haven’t come through as yet.”
“Hey,” I told the guy, “I’ve been called a clown before, and you know what? You can make the case that I am indeed suited for the circus. Maybe I’d fit in as a clown. But for sure, not as a juggler. Add the COVID into the mix, the stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and yeah, there’s a few too many balls in the air for me at times,” I admitted. “Nope, I’m not so skilled as a juggler. So my apologies for missing my deadline on getting back to you, buddy, with some asked-for info.”
My buddy forgave me. He gets it, the juggling.
I’m not sure if I should say most people do, most “get it,” because, quite honestly, I’m not on firm ground regarding how I assess the masses. And many of you who read me, I think, know that. I’m now more prone to gently equivocate, to insert a qualifier, to tell you that I acknowledge the uncertainty in the air, which was present before but exacerbated by the pandemic.
Oh, and even when I try to find some level ground, and make a declaration, it’s not unlikely that I kind of bungle that. Here’s an example. You know that DAZN came back with bouts on July 24. Vergil Ortiz Jr, of whom I’m an unabashed fan — I think highly of his fighting style and his humble charm as a public figure — met Samuel Vargas, and scored a stoppage win, at the end of round seven.
Five fights were scheduled to unfold and before the fight to precede the main event began, I Tweeted out something that came to mind. It was to the effect of:
The matchmakers at Golden Boy, they do a nice job, they often book something that proves to be a sleeper thriller.
“Er, Woods,” a couple replies got fired back, right away, “Did you not see that Adkins fight? Who made that match, it was an execution!”
I had to laugh at myself for showing such execrable timing. Shame on me. I told you already, I am not a good juggler. If I recall, I was doing some dinner outside with the fam, because the weather felt pleasant and that beat being indoors. So, yeah, I didn’t see that “Adkins fight” that people were referring to.
“Adkins” is Miranda Adkins, who got put in with 28-year-old Seniesa Estrada, who now holds an 18-0 record after almost separating Adkins’ head from her shoulders in Indio. The junior flyweight match ended about as quick as it started — Estrada came from her corner, looked at Adkins like the lady owed her $500 and Seniesa learned she’d won the Megabucks the week before. Seven seconds, done deal, and it’s the fastest KO recorded in women’s boxing history.
Not a “sleeper thriller,” no.
Adkins, I think, deserved extra cake when on July 28 she celebrated her 43rd birthday.
And you all know this, people dig quickie KOs, right? No, not close to everyone...But the people who like boxing, they enjoy the conclusiveness and viciousness of a slam-bang KO. Video of that can go viral. And it did; Estrada mugging Adkins did 3.2 million views on Twitter, on the DAZN account.
Plenty were fascinated by the spectacle. Some, like me, watched it twice, then a third time.
Hey, you watched and then I bet were happy that Adkins’ eyes opened. Did you notice she had “Mom” stitched on her belt line? She got put to sleep by Estrada, and saw her record go to 5-1, and I’d not be surprised if she never so much as laced on a pair of gloves again, let alone signed a contract to fight as a pro again.
A day passed, then two. Mostly, people moved on. There is no shortage of things to be fascinated by in the same sort of category of Estrada kayoing Adkins. There is no shortage of things to be consumed and concerned by, right? And you’ve also noticed, some people will ask themselves and ask aloud about how our sport works, and wonder how it could work better.
Some people do care enough to whoop and holler and condemn and shout for reform — and then the status stays “quo.” Some people give up whooping and hollering, because they feel like, hey, why bother? It doesn’t do any good anyway.
And of yes, this isn’t just a boxing thing. Why bother voting, the system it what it is, the overwhelming majority of politicians are motivated by their own self interest and don’t give a flying eff about the voters, except when they are sucking up to gain enough votes to hold on to their position.
Credit to our man Teddy Atlas, though. He’s not given in to a virtual certainty, the dimming of the flame in those who look at flawed systems which could and should be attended to, and made better, for the masses.
He’s been in longer than me, and deeper, too, and he deserves credit for still caring. It’s not for no reason that if you ask around, take a sampling of people 40 and up, so many of them, when asked about the gun/casual violence/anger management problem, or climate change, or whatever, a ton of them tell you that the kids will step up and fix the glaring holes in the nation’s collective soul. The ones that haven’t yet had that pound of flesh that time takes from everyone will have the vibrancy to do the job, which will take smarts and massive drive and energy and an absence of age-related cynicism.
Atlas couldn’t be faulted if he had said to hell with it, and after ESPN shuffled their on-air talent deck in the boxing department, he’d taken his talents and ability to adapt and found another stage to work on. Because, I hate to tell you, our stage has shrunk. And Atlas doesn’t pretend otherwise on his podcast, the wickedly successful “The Fight.” 18 months in, the show boasts 111,000 subscribers and counting. He and co-host Ken Rideout don’t pull the punch, they will tell you that UFC has been out-doing boxing by putting on fewer showcases. And on the July 28 ep, Atlas touched on the contrast between UFC and boxing, using that Estrada versus Adkins clash to prove a point.
“UFC is pulling away,” Rideout told Atlas, and boxing is losing ground because too many one-sided scraps are made. Atlas concurred. He took aim at the matchmaking, and was even harsher with the California commission. He raised his voice. He seemed legit heated.
Adkins’ foes, they “probably found them in the parking lot,” Atlas thundered.
I listened to Atlas and I admitted, I had no idea where Adkins had come from. But I have talked now and again with Robert Diaz, at Golden Boy, who is not afraid to take a call, listen to media questions and answer them. He’ll return a call, knowing full well that it isn’t always a softball “tell me about this prospect.”
Before I connected with Diaz, though, I did read about this Estrada-Adkins deal on The Ring, and saw this snippet from writer Ryan O’Hara. This is a great short rendering of a reminder why boxing got tagged “the red light district” of the sports world.
“A source reporting exclusively to The Ring with knowledge of the situation said that at least half of Adkins’ opponents are strippers and not at all affiliated with the sweet science. ‘They show up to the venue with nothing,’ the source said. ‘No short. No shoes. No mouthguard. Nothing. Then, they borrow from (other) fighters. It’s really fucked up.”
Check back soon for Part 2. That will include insights from matchmaker Diaz, who gave me some information into how the Estrada-Adkins fight came to be, and helped me see this rapid KO from a couple additional angles. Also, the second half of this piece will include a response from the husband of Adkins. Does he regret booking his wife into this fight?