I’ve noted on other occasions that the 1970s may have been a strenuous decade for me, what with the volatile combination of getting discharged from the Navy, college life, Disco, Schlitz and the winding down of the peace & love shtick of the previous decade, but I don’t think what happened to me last Saturday night amounted to anything approaching a flashback.
I am referring to the HBO replay of the Pacquiao/Clotty fight at Cowboy Stadium, “The Event” that proved to be a good deal less than that despite playing in front of a reported 60,000 or so.
I was on the road in Chicago, so after a big meal at Bob Chin’s Restaurant (but not so big that it could have prompted hallucinations), I plopped down on the hotel room bed to watch the fight replay, “The Event,” if you choose to describe it thusly, having taken place a week earlier.
What we watched was way beyond ludicrous. I am hoping I will get quick responses here or from my column in Sports Collectors Digest pointing out what a cable TV dunce I am and that I should have understood what was happening. Swell. Obviously, I didn’t.
I assume that what I witnessed was some manner of boxing abortion brought about by the sordid scrambling that surrounds every important fight as all hands on deck try to rustle up every available dollar. Whatever the explanation, the telecast was alternately wretched, bewildering and infuriating.
While I’ve found some corroboration for my interpretation of what took place, I’d love to have more. The audio portion of the fight was clearly contrived, as though it were some kind of recreation, like the early radio guys used to do with major league games in the 1910s as they conjured up visions for eager fans by, uh, improvisation after receiving line scores by telegraph.
The combination of announcers feebly attempting to sound like they were watching a live event and flaccid crowd noises pumped up and down by a sound guy in a control room was maddening to the point of distraction, but only half the problem.
The real, did-I-ingest-something-in-the-1970s-that-I-shouldn’t-have moment was the video portion of the crowd watching the boxers. I haven’t got a clue what was happening, I only know that it wasn’t right and it wasn’t reality. I still have at least a flimsy grip on the former and a fleeting familiarity with the latter.
The people in the ringside seats clearly were watching C-Span rather than the admittedly tepid boxing match. It seemed as though the crowd images were on a loop, with the flurries where Pacquiao was pummelling Clotty not eliciting the kind of genuine response from the crowd that any remotely competent fight fan can relate to.
You could even recognize famous faces at ringside, but you certainly couldn’t tell what they hell they were watching.
Can anybody out there help me? I have my own theory about what took place, but I can’t make it comfortably jibe with the technology that would be required. I just know that something annoying and grotesquely deceptive was foisted off on me – and presumably other HBO viewers – and I’d like to know what the hell happened.