An American in Toronto - My Experience at Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack

An American in Toronto – My Experience at Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack

Here’s a math question for everyone: How many liters does it take to fill a 15-gallon car at a price of 119 somethings/liter with an American-Canadian conversion rate of 1:.128? Also, how many kilometers will a 15-gallon tank yield at a rate of 105-110 km/hr? Answer: Welcome to Canada!

For my first professional dabble in boxing coverage for, I found myself driving to Toronto, ON for Showtime Boxing WBC Light Heavyweight Championship bout between Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack (not too shabby). But why drive, you may be asking: that is what happens when you let your passport expire and have to spend an entire day (my birthday) downtown Chicago getting an expedited passport renewal.

After driving thru the night and across the entire state of Michigan, I hit the Canadian border relatively early figuring I’d spend sometime getting into the country. I may have slightly overestimated my wait-time which I thought to conservatively take half an hour. My total wait time: 47-seconds. Okay, so there was some time to kill. How do I get to Tim Horton’s … wait, where’s my cellphone reception?! I get to spend the remainder of my drive guessing that I’m headed in the general direction of downtown Toronto.

Interstate 401 is a nightmare and I’m not even sure calling it an interstate is correct. Inter-province? The next three hours is spent between finding a radio station that’s not in French and making an occasional plea with God that I don’t get cutoff by another vehicle with Ontario plates. Sidenote: one of those radio stations went from Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me; Avril Lavigne – I’m With You; Celine Dion – That’s the Way It Is (I get it, I’m in Canada). Roadsigns inform me that traveling more than 20 km/hr is a $95 (Canadian dollar) fine, while not wearing a seat belt is $250, interesting.

I finally arrive at my hotel in Toronto (well, Mississauga). The hotel receptionist helps me check-in and attempts to find a bank where I can convert American dollars to Canadian, but with no success. This becomes problematic during my trip because should I forget to ask about the exchange rate, businesses won’t ask and won’t do them. I have roughly three hours to check-in, power nap, shower and change before I head to the Air Canada Centre. I toss my Tallia suit coat in the backseat and head downtown. Luckily, parking in the city is relatively easy and cheap. The Air Canada Centre is right down the street from the NHL Hall of Fame, so finding the venue is just as easy.

The beginning fights of the undercard feature local Canadian favorites, which was only made aware to me by Fight Ontario’s reporter, Alex Scaffidi. Based on my limited interaction with Ontario natives, Scaffidi is probably the nicest Canadian I’ve met. We spend the majority of the undercard discussing the flawed 10-point scoring system and how that same system should’ve favored Nate Diaz in McGregor-Diaz Pt. 2. Although, she has no problem calling me out if I miss scoring a round. The first five fights end quickly, so there is a lot of downtime in between bouts.

Lee Baxter, co-promoter of the event, is making his rounds. He is young (34-years old) and wearing a grey plaid suit but not like Pacino’s outfit in Scent of a Woman. He looks like a cross of Chris Andersen’s tattoos with Brian Scalabrine’s complexion. Shamele Mackie (a.k.a. Papoose, Remy Ma’s spouse) is also in attendance which confused me until I heard his track in-between rounds of the main event.

The crowd seems to be bored as we get to the NABF Welterweight Championship between Mickael Zewski and Diego Gonzalo Luque. Most people aren’t watching the longest fight of the evening. They aren’t interested in a fight that has gone into the 7th round with great technique and movement from 147-pounders. The crowd gets more excited in between rounds when Stevenson and Jack are shown in their locker rooms.

During the lead up to the main event, press row seems to be at odds with how many people are in attendance. It varies between 2700-6000 while four of us are debating whether three-weeks promotion was enough time to hype such a fight card and if this was why a split-card promotion with Mayweather Promotion and Premier Boxing Champions happened.

While ‘O Canada’ is being sung, I’m informed that the lyrics had been changed from ‘All thy sons command’ to ‘In all of us’ to make the lyrics more gender neutral (this is the most Canadian thing I’ve listed thus far).

The main event delivered. Completely. So much that a majority draw outcome will inevitably see this fight played out in the near future. What looked to be dismal at the beginning of the evening turned out to be a success. Floyd Mayweather praised both fighters while still backing Badou Jack. When asked if Mayweather saw himself in Jack’s performance, Mayweather alluded to his bout with Conor McGregor. That was my in and I was taking it.

“You mentioned McGregor, how is that (MMA) training going?” I asked.

“You know, I started training,”  Mayweather said.

“But then had to start focusing back on promoting these fighters because, these fighters, I want these fighters to surpass me, not be like me,” Mayweather continued.

Regardless of the crazy circumstances of getting to Toronto and all of the little snags that happened, this event was such a great opportunity to see how similar the boxing world and MMA world really are. Cards have their good fights and bad fights. Journalists are very similar in personality. Promoters are similar as well. But at the end of the day, these two sports are more similar than they aren’t. And with Oscar De La Hoya wanting to start an MMA company and Dana White wanting to start a boxing company we could see these two sports start meeting more.

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