San Antonio—America’s Fight Town

This is a building which has stood since just after the conclusion of the Second World War.

Saturday night in San Antonio, Mikey Garcia took on then-champion Sergey Lipinets at the historic Freeman Coliseum…

Apologies are due in advance. Many editorials are, after all but opinion pieces carefully glazed with personal experience and gut feelings. With that in mind, please understand that this entry is by no means a sign of neither disrespectful nor disregarded notions towards the respective hubs of the nation such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Furthermore, a confession is in order because this writer has yet to personally report from the two places held as part of a bucket list of sorts, Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Forum in Inglewood. In a personal sense, a full house or empty seats wouldn’t matter as long as the dream of sorts was satisfied. So, with that in mind, please be aware that this is by no means a blanketed statement.

This past Saturday evening in the Alamo City, fan favorite and new IBF light welterweight champion Mikey Garcia took on then-champion Sergey Lipinets at the historic Freeman Coliseum. This is a building which has stood since just after the conclusion of the Second World War. As far as sitting in press row or even in the upper stands, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a throwback crowd cheering with all their muster and might in a setting which feels more like a well-lit warehouse as opposed to a part-time hockey arena.

San Antonio is a travel destination of a completely different kind than say, Las Vegas. While so many high profile bouts have always taken and will continue to take place in Sin City, there’s an interesting feeling in the air when there’s no pretensions to be felt in a town which is mostly blue-collar, deep-rooted in the military and family oriented.

Most of us with young kids can’t take them along with us to Las Vegas unless we’re prepared to stay in the room during the most raucous hours of the night. Furthermore and as this writer can personally attest, so many individuals get to Vegas and party to the point to where not only their proverbial wheels have either fallen off or have been stolen, but also seem to forget they’re still in the United States as well. We can’t control to a certain extent what our children see and for that reason alone, it’s irresponsible to take little ones to a place like Las Vegas unless a friend or family member lives there and has kindly agreed to play host.

Don’t agree? The eyes don’t lie and do yourself a favor next time you’re there. Take a look around at parents pushing their small wonders around in a carriage at midnight or witness a toddler watch a drunk adult vomit into a plant in the hotel lobby. Is this an attempt to bash Vegas? Absolutely not and apologies are due because we have strayed a bit from the topic.

No one intends to play ‘high and mighty’ or sing puritanical praises in defense of any city, yet San Antonio continues to play host to coveted sporting events such as the Final Four, which is set to take place next month at the Alamodome. Wholly speaking, we’ve not seen the most gargantuan of ‘superfights’ take place at places other than Vegas in recent years. The Orange Bowl in Miami is gone, Yankee Stadium is now ignored for the sake of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Solider Field in Chicago isn’t in the cards any longer in terms of boxing.

We understand. The bigger the fight, the bigger the site fee, so it makes perfect sense to take it to Vegas when a casino can help recoup the payout to host the event. Think about it. How many of us really thought the initial or upcoming bouts between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin would be in Madison Square Garden, AT&T Stadium or anywhere else? The same can be asked of 2015’s “fight to end all fights” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Sure, a football stadium would be great for the paying customer and would allow more fans to attend the bout, but would also mean $20 tickets wouldn’t exist. San Antonio has the best fans, in this writer’s opinion and among the most knowledgeable about the sport. When you walk the streets close to where the customary Friday weigh-in is taking place, you’ll often find people who are incredibly excited about the event even if they don’t plan to attend.

Canelo Alvarez put nearly 40,000 fans in the Alamodome when he faced Austin Trout five years ago and how many people did the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez attract in 1993 when he clashed with Pernell Whitaker? Somewhere around 65,000 and when Chavez escaped with a dubious draw, the overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd booed the decision. It was seen as unfair.

Sometimes, unconditional love isn’t a bad thing. Fighters long to be seen as ‘of the people,’ yet the moment their contest is announced with the site being somewhere such as Las Vegas, hotel rooms skyrocket and the gouging to the utmost degree begins. It’s not always welcome news to us, yet it is what it is. In short, it’s business. To be fair, does San Antonio do the same thing? Likely so, but the city is big enough to accommodate every budget. Its venues are centrally located and moving around is easy.

The people of the Alamo City are friendly, for the most part. It’s what helps make it such a great fight town. That and the fact that many up and coming native talents are blossoming at the right time, such as the unbeaten junior welterweight talent, Mario “Golden Boy” Barrios. When a promoter of an upcoming bout actually proclaims, “come one, come all to Las Vegas because it will be a great time,” that’s all fair and good. Who has to pay for that and at an astronomical premium as well? Some aspects of the fight game aren’t going to change. We’ll always have Vegas and we can all see the love affair with the StubHub Center outside of Los Angeles as well as the aforementioned Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They respect boxing, so boxing gives back. We all have our opinions, but San Antonio at this time may be the best fight town in the United States.

Tags: san antonio texas freeman coliseum Mikey Garcia sergey lipinets Canelo Alvarez Austin Trout Julio Cesar Chavez Pernell Whitaker mario barrios marc livitz

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