I don't know how many boxing fans there are in Charlotte. But hen I run into some, I'm always surprised and appreciative.
Almost anybody can talk about football because almost everybody follows the game. Teams play once a week, there is lots of space to fill with talk about the last game or the next one and people do.
Boxing, however, is a cult. Few of us care. So I was surprised last night when my wife and I went to the Beantown Tavern on Tom Short Rd. and, a few stools down, heard an animated conversaton about boxing.
One guy did most of the talking, and he was entitled because he knew what he was talking about. We were there for only one drink each, about 20 minutes, and the conversation never deviated from the sweet science. They talked about this Saturday's Mayweather-Marquez bout, greats from the past, champions in the lighter weight classes and who was the greatest heavyweight of all time.
Even the great Jack Johnson, not the singer, was invoked. Not many know about the legend of Jack.
I rarely jump into conversations anymore, partly out of courtesy and partly because my wife hates it when I do. But I always see bar conversations as open; if you're qualified, if you have something to say, jump in. Out of deference to Sharon, I did not.
Then one guy proposed that Mike Tyson had never beaten a good fighter. And I thought, is this true? Tyson fought everybody, but in his time all the good heavyweights were playing power forward or middle linebacker. He did beat Larry Holmes, but Holmes was an old man then.
Then I remember the one good fighter he beat, and I was there to see it. Had Tyson not knocked the guy out in the first round, I could not have made deadline.
I knew nobody would agree with me but I'd say it anyway. On our way out I said, "Michael Spinks."
"But he's a light-heavyweight. A heavyweight should always beat a light-heavyweight.," the boxing fan said.
"Spinks might have beaten everybody but Tyson," I said.
My point wasn't brilliant and I might not even have been right. But I wanted to play.
"Another boxing fan," somebody said. "What are the odds of that?"
Far too small, unfortunately.