At first glance, from the eyes of a 23-year-old woman unacquainted with the sport, it looks like this:
|Two men who don't know each other are introduced to beat each other up, with hopes of winning a very large belt with a very shiny belt buckle|
|They look at each other with menacing glares and move around each other in a circle|
|They try to hit each other in the head really hard to knock them out|
|When the fight gets tough, they hug it out|
To the untrained eye, this is a strange ritual. But what I learned through watching this and the previous matches was that all of the appearances are wrong--the sport is actually extremely disciplined and almost, dare I say, constructive.
The fact that these men don't know each other very well when they get into the ring is a good thing. For one, most boxers that I saw after their fights are extremely personable, genuinely gentle people. They see this as a sport to be won with defensive moves and strategically placed punches, and not as a means to kicking the crap out of each other. When they get into the ring to fight an opponent, these guys don't have any problems with each other. They may have fought each other before, but it's no reason to hate them and knock their brains out, and simultaneously no reason to go easy on each other either. It's balanced emotion, leading to a fight of the quickest, best-placed punches, the ability to exhaust the opponent, and defend yourself against incoming jabs.
I was, admittedly, bored a little in the beginning, wondering why they didn't just start hitting each other in the way that children wail on each other playing Rock 'em Sock 'em robots. In a far more strategic method, the men wait for the opponents arms to move away from the face, they keep setting their bodies at new angles that make their jabs more powerful, they fake their opponents out--it's highly technical. Like I said when I went to the boxing class, it's like dance. On an elevated, well-lit stage even!
The opponents, while they would like to knock each other out a little bit, it's not their main goal. To prove your success in each round, you just have to maintain focus, strike when the opportunity presents itself, and get out of the way of the punches headed your way, and keep it classy. Knocking each other out is a bonus of a well-timed, well-executed punch. It may not be the best use of your head in any given day, but it is the result of a highly trained individual executing his craft to perfection.
While watching this event, I could feel the energy of the crowd in full support of Paul and it was electrifying. Paul held his own and truly demonstrated great form and passion against an equal opponent.
And, to the largely Paul-supporting crowd, it was a universal victory when the judges declared him the winner of the match, rendering him one of the top 20 boxers in the world.
Congrats Paul, and thanks so much for showing me what boxing really is!