There’s something to be said for the anonymity afforded to fighters that reside in those weight divisions south of featherweight. While, to be sure, there is likely no fighter residing in those divisions that does not envy the sort of money and fame which larger fighters are privy to at the same time their inevitable exit from the ring must provide a softer landing.
Much has been made throughout the history of the sport as to the trouble adapting to life outside the ring for boxing’s biggest stars. Regardless of sport, or industry, when you are use to being fawned over, your ego massaged regularly, its hard to fade into any sort of anonymity.
Replaced with those nights which will live forever in the memories of the fans who witnessed THAT fight, you instead are left to learn how to be as normal as possible for a person of your stature. While this often leads into the much maligned constant comebacks fights or the regrettable bankruptcy proceedings which follow former fighters around, for some the transition is a bit easier.
One has to imagine such has been the case for Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez. While stars of their time, their names rarely touch the lips of the casual boxing fans, lost in the 90’s hubris of the likes of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar de la Hoya.
Perhaps that speaks to the sheer talent on display throughout the decade, for these two men participated in one of the greatest fights of the decade but alas its memory does not stand out quite as much as it should.
It’s the sort of fight where the jab was, for the most part, deemed surplus to requirements for both men. A tool that would just get in the way of the sort of savagery that their fellow compatriots, Bazooka Limon and Bobby Chacon, had displayed a decade prior.
Instead, outside of a few jabs thrown seemingly for the sake of it on the part of Carbajal, the two decided to wage war in a phone booth. That is they decided to stand head to head and go toe to toe for the duration of the fight. It speaks a lot of the heart of a champion like Carbajal that, although vastly more talented then Gonzalez, he was willing to take him on at Gonzalez’ fight.
This brawl took place in the parking lot of the Las Vegas Hilton, the sight of many a legendary scrap throughout the years. It was the first time any junior flyweight fighter had earned a million dollars. It was also the first time a junior flyweight title bout had featured as a main event on a pay per view.
While it would be easy to hypothesize that this is why the two went out and put on the performance they did, deep down you know they would have had this sort of the scrap in front of 200 people for peanuts. It’s a testament to the sort of character that likely landed both men comfortably outside the ring.