|Grand Slam on the Grandstand|
Unaware of exactly how I'd go about achieving this end, I took the advice of my editor to "be the artist" and trust my instincts. It all worked out splendidly.
That creative effort began for me at Fenway Park on Thursday for the final press conference before the Saturday afternoon card on nearby Comm Ave May 23.
|Dirrell, the Greatest, Micky Ward, and DeGale|
I also enjoyed a great conversation with "Magic Man" Paulie Malignaggi and even got a close-up look at that fatefully sliced left eyelid of his. As a cut, I've seen much worse but I could now see with my own eyes why his Brooklyn Brawl at the Barclays Center against Danny O'Connor had to be scrapped.
I met international media members from across the pond and close to home. On a media sign-in sheet that was left out by the entrance of Gate E on Lansdowne Street, I somehow managed to beat the UK's "Sky Sports" but not Cary Shuman from the Independent Newspaper Group. Imagine that. Having covered my fair share of boxing press conferences for KO Digest, I can say without question that this one at Fenway Park for TSS was the best and most fun. The free food was pretty good too by the way in the form of a full buffet of Fenway Franks with all the fixings.
On a belly full of Beantown bites, I covered the final presser like it was my job, because frankly, it was.
|Baytown in Beantown|
As a native Texan, I felt a responsibility to make Baker feel welcomed in my city.
When I arrived at the venue on Saturday around noon, I parked in a special media lot that was only $5 for the day. As I gathered my things and got ready to make the short walk over to the Agganis Arena, an arriving vehicle honked its horn. It was good friend and fight photographer Pattee Mak. We chatted it up on the short walk to pick up our press passes. As we made our way from the credentialing desk to the ring, we passed through the "backstage" area of the entire PBC production team. There was a spot to stop and take photos with the NBC on PBC logos as a staged backdrop. From there, it was into the arena which was still being set up. Before taking my seat in pressrow, I took a few minutes to converse with fellow early-bird Lee Groves. The Ring Magazine's Travelin' Man was there to count punches for COMPUBOX and he gave me an impromptu verbal preview of the article he was working on for RingTV about his time spent working in Boston.
|I'm eager to get down to work - Photo by Pattee Mak|
I'm still not sure what fight they were looking at.
When there were no more boxing matches left to cover and no more quality content available to gather, I packed up my media bag and said my goodbyes to friends and colleagues. Fellow boxing writer Steve Tobey tried to convince me that he was retiring from fight writing after many years of service but I didn't want to believe him. With good friend and boxing publicist Bob Trieger by my side, we made our way from the ringside press section towards the area where I first came in. What better place to depart the premises I thought. It was a good thing I did that.
As we walked towards the service exit, I suddenly saw James DeGale and his British posse as they emerged from the dressing room to leave the venue. I knew I had to approach DeGale and talk to him about the fight, that my job as a journalist was not complete. As I did, somebody from his team made a halfhearted attempt to stop me but DeGale immediately recognized me from our fight week interactions and "Chunky" gave a subtle nod that it was OK I talk to him. And so that's just exactly what happened.
|Exclusive access to the new IBF champ|
Where is your new title belt I asked DeGale?
It was in a small locked case that his Dad was carrying for him. With British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn looking on, DeGale then stopped and removed the beautiful red belt before posing with it for me just outside the building nearby an ambulance parked on standby.
An hour or so later, I was home filing my ringside report for TSS.
Thanks for reading. See you at the fights my friends!
Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman