Boxing Musings – Dirrell and Valero
By Francisco Hernandez: The Super Six World Boxing Classic continues to create excitement. The fighters involved are third rate boxers at best, but are superb athletes; they can deliver twelve rounds of action, are fun to watch.
One thing that we can learn from one of these fighters –Arthur Abraham- is how to stop a cheater –Arthur Dirrell. Out of the “Super Six” (I don’t know why they call them “Super”) Dirrell is the most defensively gifted. Yet Dirrell has an annoying strategy of going to his knees when the going gets tough and leather gets dangerously close to his chin. Anytime he is in danger, Dirrell will fake a fall to his knees or a slip to the canvas. Dirrell is too big to crouch down and sit on his rear like Pernell Whitaker used to do. Therefore Dirrell chooses to fake slips and falls to his knees when convenient.
What Dirrell has in common with Pernell Whitaker is the generosity from the referees in letting him get away with such antics. Most fighters were too simple minded to neutralize Whitaker’s sitting on the ring apron, a smart fighter would have put a knee through Whitaker’s face when he got that low with the referees complicity. Arthur Abraham is not a stupid fighter; he put a devastating fist through Dirrell’s face and ended Dirrell’s blatant tactics of deception. This was regardless of the official outcome, the right thing to do.
Unbeaten Edwin Valero seems to be going down the drain. You can take the man out of the slum but you can’t take the slum out of the man, this could easily be applied to Valero. Edwin had a rough childhood, living on the streets, running with thugs and gangs, stealing and mugging people. He worked hard to get out of that dark place in Venezuela. Now that he has achieved some excellent progress, some admirable success, and is on the threshold of greatness as a world class pugilist, he sabotages himself. Now that he has wealth, fame, and admiration from millions of fans and countrymen, he decides to destroy himself with booze and narcotics. It may well be that Valero’s future will be a padded cell in an insane asylum and not the ring.
The lives of fighters have always had something of extreme about them. The immortal Salvador Sanchez loved sports cars and he drove at high speeds, in the end this was his death. Diego Corrales met a similar end on a motorcycle. Henry Armstrong was addicted to booze and to fast women, spending considerable sums on his vices. Joe Louis became a vicious drug addict in old age. Rocky Lockridge is consumed by crack cocaine, a once great warrior now a derelict on skid row. A crack fiend and alcoholic. Mexico still mourns the life of the great Pajarito Ricardo Moreno, who at a young age was turned on to cocaine and other drugs by the jet set of Mexico. Pajarito was a country boy who was easily duped by movie star weasels, his wealth was stolen, addicted to drugs, eventually he died a homeless depressed man while sleeping on a boxing ring in a gym where he was allowed to stay at night.
There are opposite examples of those boxers who self-destruct; they are men who work themselves out of extreme poverty and achieve the highest glory without harm to their mental balance. Pacquiao was born into unfortunate circumstances of extreme poverty in one of the poorest and must socially unjust countries in the world (the Philippines); he has been able to take his rise to glory with humility and balance. The Golden Boy, Oscar de la Hoya, rose from the oppressive slums of Los Angeles to become a star in boxing and now one of the most influential promoters in that sport. The lives of fighters like Daniel Zaragoza, Raul “Raton” Macias, and many others are examples of good clean living.
Hopefully Edwin Valero can find a good psychiatrist in Cuba who can help him work out his demons and allow him to fulfill his potential as a man and as boxer.