Searching for Prospects

By Wrigley Brogan on September 22, 2018
Searching for Prospects
During the fight against Abarca, Luis came out strong in the first round. (Wrigley Brogan)

Working out the day of the fight seemed strange. I seldom question fighters. They all have their peculiarities…

All the usual suspects waited patiently for the weigh-in at the Emerald Queen Casino. The commission shuffled paperwork and checked gloves. The ring announcer practiced the correct pronunciation of names. The man in front of me squirmed in his seat, a big smile on his face and talking to the man beside him. He must have been a new fighter. The older ones said nothing and looked sleepy or bored. They had gone through this ordeal many times.

“How about an interview?” I said, to one of the man’s tattoos. An army of them marched from his arms to his neck. I took him for an MMA guy, one of many trying to break into boxing. He turned around.

“You mean me?” he said. His smile said, “I hope so.”

“Sure; why not.”

“I’m new here.”

“So what? Who needs more press than you?”

“OK.” He almost crawled over the table.

“Not now. Tomorrow,” I said. “Before the fight.”

I took his name, Luis Dealba, and number. He wanted to do the interview during his workout at a Seattle gym. Working out the day of the fight seemed strange. I seldom question fighters. They all have their peculiarities.

The next morning his trainer called me. “You the writer?” he said.

“Yes.”

“Luis made a mistake. He won’t be in the gym.”

“I thought it odd that he would be working out. Let’s do a week after the fight.”

During the fight against Andres Abarca, Luis came out strong in the first round. He was not without skills. Just his look was fearsome. In fact, he looked pretty good. Unfortunately he used up the skills, and his energy, in that round and lost the fight. More fights are lost due to poor conditioning than other reason.

I arranged to meet him the following week. Of course he was late. Boxers run on a different clock than regular people. Old fighters have had time knocked out of them and think in three-minute increments. New fighters think time will never run out, that there will always be one more fight. That gave me a chance to check out the gym. There are few professional gyms in the Northwest. Boxers work out at amateur gyms.

The gym in Seattle is in a scruffy building of indeterminate age, a holding zone for mostly dark-skinned kids bursting with energy and staffed with pleasant, smiling, people crammed with enormous patience. A pick-up basketball game was in progress at one end of the building. The boxing gym is in a small room with a clock stuck at 9:45.

A poster of Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston hung on the wall beside a Title banner: Boxing USA. Six heavy bags hung from the ceiling, three bandaged with duct tape. A row of trophies lined a shelf. A boxer was doing sit-ups on the floor.

“What’s your name?” I asked him.

“Malachi,” he said.

“Been boxing long?” He smiled and said nothing, then slipped on a single glove and started throwing straight left hooks and jabs at a heavy bag.

“Shy, isn’t he?” I said to a woman who was helping other boxers. Her name was Seville Nichols, the team captain.

“He’s new, but very determined.”

I could see that. Anyone that resolute, if he kept at it, would be a success. I hoped he stuck long enough that I could see him turn pro.

Luis’ trainer, Willie “Bumblee” Ray, slid in on crutches. In his 80’s, he had been crippled from the waist down after a botched operation when he was a boxer. The doctor, inserting a needle into his spine, missed and drove the point through his spinal cord. He is a smiling, good-natured man, and easy with words. He said he had over 30 fights. (BoxRec credits him with 3)

Luis appeared an hour late or, in boxing terms, right on time. He looks like a boxer. He had never fought MMA, although he had the look. He also did not look like an MMA guy in the ring. MMA fighters seldom make good boxers.

“So, what happened during the fight?” I said.

“I got tired,” he smiled.

I gave him my thoughts on being in shape. He revolted.

“I was in shape. It was my nerves. That’s what took the energy—sucked it right out of me.”

I have never met a boxer who admitted to being out of shape. They always have another excuse for wandering around in the later rounds and walking all over their tongues.

Luis was born in Mexico before his family brought him to California where he boxed amateur—43 wins with 8 loses. He had not fought in eight years and admitted he was a bit rusty.

“Things will be different next time,” he said. “I’ve signed for a rematch in December.”

Luis is 31 years old, too old to go far. Too bad. He has skills. Given time he might have made some real money. He might still if he fights every month.

I watched Malachi. He was still tossing those left hooks and jabs. He had been at it for twenty minutes. He was boxing’s future. I was anxious to see him in a real fight. At the moment, however, he is only about 3’10” and weighs 50 pounds. No problem. I can Waite.

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  1. peter 01:59pm, 09/23/2018

    Good read!

  2. Kid Blast 09:08am, 09/23/2018

    “...he is only about 3’10” and weighs 50 pounds. No problem. I can Waite.”” Great ending. I’m jealous.

  3. don from prov 06:56am, 09/23/2018

    Good article.  I enjoyed it.

  4. La Grande Orange 05:54am, 09/23/2018

    “I have never known a boxer who admitted to being out of shape.” That was one of Roberto Duran’s favorite excuses when he lost and even when he won.

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