The doors opened to the elevator at the Mandalay Bay Events Center and out walks Alejandro Fernandez, one of Mexico’s most beloved singers.
I entered the elevator with Major League Baseball players Adrian Gonzalez and Yovani Gallardo. The Mexican ballplayers were there to cheer for fellow countryman Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who defeated Miguel Cotto on that night in November three years ago.
It was my first time covering a megabout, and I was in awe of my surroundings. The elevator took me to the top of the arena. Alvarez and Cotto looked like ants from my view, but it didn’t matter. I was in the building.
Nine months later, I was elevated to lead boxing writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. My pressrow seat was moved to the floor, a few feet away from the ring, as I bumped elbows with some of the best boxing writers in the country.
It was a dream come true to cover a sport I grew up watching with family and friends. But this will be the last boxing story I write for the RJ. I’m moving on to my next dream and challenge as a beat writer covering the Los Angeles Chargers.
I’ve had many great memories during my three years in Las Vegas as a boxing writer. Here are a few I’ll never forget:
Here’s an expression Snapchat users like to say: “If you don’t Snap it, it doesn’t count.”
Well, I tried to make my training camp visit with Gennady Golovkin count last year. It made the former middleweight champion angry.
At most gyms, team members of the fighter give media a rundown of the rules. That didn’t happen during my time at Abel Sanchez’s “The Summit Gym” in Big Bear, California, before Golovkin’s first bout against Alvarez.
I learned after recording Golovkin jump roping that no video from a phone was a gym rule — a big one. Five seconds into my Snap video, Golovkin gave me a death stare. He exited the ring and went for a bike ride that felt like an hour long.
I somehow managed to anger one of boxing’s nicest guys when it comes to media interviews. But Golovkin is a perfectionist and takes rules and routine seriously. The Big Bear gym is his sanctuary and I had disrupted his peace.
When Golovkin returned, he was told I didn’t know the rules. Golovkin and I had a few words to clear the air and then followed to give me a full sit-down interview.
On the day Floyd Mayweather was in Los Angeles for a news conference to promote his comeback bout against Conor McGregor, the Review-Journal reported that Mayweather owed the IRS $22 million in taxes.
I was tasked with asking the boxing superstar about his issues with Uncle Sam. But Mayweather doesn’t do one-on-ones with print media.So I requested a microphone during the news conference and asked Mayweather about his taxes instead of his highly anticipated bout with the UFC star.
Mayweather brushed it off and requested a different question. Seconds later, I got my answer.
“Don’t worry about that,” Mayweather said. “My tax attorney will take care of all that. I ain’t worried about that. I just showed y’all a $100 million check, I ain’t even cashed, on stage. We ain’t tripping on that.”
After the news conference, a man asks, “Hey, aren’t you the guy who asked Floyd about his taxes?”
Yup, that’s me.
Pac Man’s suite
The day after Manny Pacquiao defeated Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center in 2016, a few reporters were invited to Pacquiao’s suite at Wynn Las Vegas.
When the door opened, it felt like the crowded room my six friends and I got at the Riviera Hotel when I turned 21. There had to be at least 40 people inside that suite.
There was hardly any room in the kitchen the reporters waited in, but at least the Filipino food smelled delicious.
Eventually another door opened. It was to Pacquiao’s bedroom and there he was, inches away from me. The fighter I grew up watching and the one my family and friends hated because Pacquiao was always beating their favorites.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum agreed to join me in studio to discuss one of his upcoming fights. Arum parked by the newsroom, but the studio is inside a different building. It was too complicated to explain the location by phone, so I ran out to find him.
Turned out, Arum knew the way and decided to walk instead of getting back in the car. I spotted the 86-year-old promoter walking the length of a football field just for an interview.
Nothing slows down Arum and that’s why his Las Vegas-based promotional company that has been around 52 years is always ahead of the curve.
“Hello, Gilberto,” Arum said. He never dropped the “o” from my first full name and always rolled the “r.”
Arum and longtime Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels were the first ones to reach out when I became the lead boxing writer at the RJ. They were helpful and kind, just like every other boxing promotional company and TV network staff members.
There are many good people in boxing. The sport is alive and well thanks to them.
Until next time, boxing. I’m going to miss you.