From meeting Mark Ronson to spotting Nick Jonas, this writer proved to be the real winner at the Fight of the Century.
The day of the fight came and I surged into the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in feverish excitement. I mean, it was #MayPac, the hottest ticket in town. I can’t count how many times I must have checked inside my tote to see if my ticket was still there and if it was, in fact, real. The golden lion statue I saw twice over from catching the historic Pacquiao-De La Hoya and Pacquiao-Marquez fights in previous years spawned the same magnetic fervor from audiences and bystanders alike. The energy was diffused but certainly palpable.
Being there was like being in a sideshow. On the left, across the concierge was the merchandise area, which had now become a full-blown store. People were getting their share of #MayPac memorabilia. And then there were those sealed boxes on the selling floor, rumored to have contained sets of Mayweather T-shirts with the message, “48-0.” To the right? Scantily clad ladies, whose near-nakedness revealed sun damage and Mayweather-esque delirium that further elevated my idea of white trash (b**ches, you in your air-conditioned casino). Also in the vicinity: old men packing cigars and the stench of wealth; in the same vein, they could give Lucious Lyon a run for his money.
After a few bites of a Red Velvet cupcake from a nearby bakery, I snaked my way into the courtyard where I was expecting to rub elbows with Hollywood’s who’s who. Spotted: Mark Ronson in white-on-white. I made the mad dash alongside his entourage, snapping paparazzi photos on my iPhone, past the ticketing area where, once in, you could no longer leave the stadium. Do I, or do I not go in for a shot at a selfie? What the heck! “Hey, Mark! Can I get a photo?” Sure, he said. And there I was, ensaymada face, grinning alongside Ronson’s man-alicious swag. Cue: Uptown Funk.
I loitered around the lobby for a good two hours — guzzled two giant-sized frozen margaritas, got tipsy, and smoked a fag shoulder to shoulder with a Baldwin. I looked at him, wondered for a hot sec if I needed to validate my tita-ness with Instagrammic sorority, then decided, nah — unless you’re Grace Coddington at the Met Ball, George Clooney, or Meryl Streep. And so, I resumed. Aaron Paul? Let him slide because I was holding drinks in both hands. Tom Hardy? Do I look like I’m interested? Bayani Agbayani? I will always love my otso-otso. Justin Bieber? If he were himself at the Met Ball; otherwise, hell to the nah.
As I took to my seat and found myself getting restless with the crowd, I relearned the value of starting on time with regards to any sporting or theatrical event. Experience tells me that how you start shapes the quality of the experience — from when the lights dim to the tempo by which the curtains rise. Since the fight was delayed (because, apparently, HBO Pay-Per-View was vaping up last-minute viewers), you could sense the energy in the room drop — that is, ‘til the announcer blared that Pacquiao was entering the arena. “Manny! Manny! Manny!” we all screamed in unison. And then Mayweather entered, Bieber in tow. “Boo!” A collective ralling cry was heard all the way across the Vegas strip at Hooters. The fight commenced. Then it was over.
We all left pretty much downtrodden — a palpable sense of sadness in the air that was antithetical to our excitement earlier. I bumped into some friends who looked equally lackluster, and then the Jonas Brothers (Nick wasn’t having it). I managed to snap some photos but that was that — the prize of having been in that particular space, in that particular time. I headed back home, had some sukiyaki, and collapsed into my bed — ready to fly back to San Fo the next day. There was a somber mood in the car that morning to the airport and that mood would last for several days. Were we robbed? Was it rigged? Is the “fight of the century” no more than a press release, a Wagnerian dream?
So yes, things didn’t really go our way. We didn’t get the “fight of the century,” but as I realized with Manny’s loss, you can’t win ‘em all — but you can certainly try. And Manny, for fighting as long as you did whether or not we see you head towards retirement, you will always be the people’s champ. Because life isn’t about winning, it’s about fighting, win or lose. And there’s no contesting that.