I got to my friend’s house with time to spare before the start of the coverage. I ended up spending about 5 hours there, to see 2 minutes and 2 seconds of action. Boxing is like that.

The copious amounts of torturously boring “filler” material included in the coverage were painful. I did not care the first time that I was told Tiffany Cherry was going to the Winter Olympics for fox sports, so by the 50th time I was told it was pretty tiresome.

I had equally little patience for the un-insightful chatter of ex rugby league players, or any of the other people interviewed by Cherry. I have nothing against them, but I didn’t pay $50.00 to hear Andrew Ettingshausen talk about the bulk he has lost since his playing days. Sadly, I could just as easily have used interviews with Laurie Daley, Steve Waugh or the guys from “the contender” as my example.

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Oh, and that guy whose name I don’t know who gleefully informed us that he liked his own sport better than boxing because it was more violent…actually he was more interesting than the others, if only because he seemed slightly unhinged. Anyone who so gleefully describes elbowing and kneeing people, and the blood loss that follows, really needs to be assessed by an appropriate professional.

Cherry’s failed attempt at saying “gladiatorial” was at least mildly amusing. Overall though, the coverage was so boring that a large chunk of the night was spent playing video games instead of watching it. There was also time to follow the Victoria v Queensland one day cricket game (Queensland won). There were actually some undercard fights amongst all of this stuff, and some of the action was entertaining, but just barely.

As it neared 10pm, I was considering what to do if the Winter Olympics ad featuring Michael Buble ice-skating came on for what would have been the 187th time of the night. I decided on stabbing myself in the eye with a nearby fork.

At least by then attention had turned entirely to the main event. Unfortunately, the focus was on which fighter would come out to the ring first. The discussion by the commentators about this dispute went longer than the fight itself, and this was after the tit-for-tat complaints about the strapping on one fighter’s hands and the other fighter’s gloves. I can’t remember which fighter made which complaint, but it was really uninteresting stuff.

Finally Roy Jones Jnr appeared, followed by Danny Green, or as Matthew Campbell called him in his ring introduction, Danny “The Green Machine” Mean. Campbell also had to correct himself later when he seemed to forget that Green went into the fight as the Champion, not the challenger. He also made a blunder when doing the introductions for the Green v Mundine fight in 2006, so his poor performance was not surprising, but that he got the job in the first place is mind boggling.

Then the fight started, with Jones firing out a few lightning quick jabs. I knew that the chance to watch the quick hands of this legend of the sport would make the wasted hours worth it. Like most of the experts, I didn’t give Green much chance of winning. The two times I had watched Green against classy opponents (Mundine and his second fight against Markus Beyer), Green’s power had not been enough to counter the superior speed and skill of his opponent. That power was always going to give him a chance though.

The possibility of sudden victory or defeat is part of what makes boxing interesting to me. When Green-the-underdog suddenly knocked Jones-the-legend to the canvas, I was excited. But it wasn’t bloodlust as non-boxing fans will probably assume.

It was the same excitement a sports fan feels when watching Gary Ablett Jnr run and kick long towards goal late in the AFL grand final (which resulted in Paul Chapman’s match winning goal). [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5CQr7RWn0U[/youtube]

Or watching Tom Pondeljak cut inside towards the Adelaide United goal in the A-League grand final (for the match winning goal).

Or when you realise that there is a running mix up between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener in a cricket World Cup semi final.

This is the excitement that comes with a sudden realisation that you are watching a decisive moment in the contest, that what happens in the next few seconds, might decide the result. As Green charged in to finish Jones off after the knock down, it wasn’t a desire to see the American get hurt that thrilled me, it was the knowledge that the underdog was seizing on his chance to win. It was all over in just 2 minutes and 2 seconds, but that time included as exhilarating a few moments as you could hope for when watching sport.

The action was followed by an interview with Green that must have lasted 5 times longer than the fight did. His enthusiasm about his achievement, and respect for his opponent, were both admirable, but watching him fight was much more fun than listening to him talk.

To wrap up the night Matthew Campbell painfully asked Roy Jones Jnr the same question, with different wording, twice. This was despite Jones giving a perfectly clear answer the first time. There really is no need to probe for more information about the likely career moves of a guy who has just told you that he will probably retire.

That final painfully cringe worthy moment was a fitting end to what had been a loooong 5 hours. Those few moments of excitement made it worth the trouble though.

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Crikey is an independent Australian-owned and run outfit. It doesn’t enjoy the vast resources of the country’s main media organisations. We take seriously our responsibility to bear witness.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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