There were enough cowboy hats to outfit the city of Dallas and enough silk pocket squares to cover the Capital Centre parking lot.
This was not your typical hockey crowd parading around the portals last night at the Sugar Ray Leonard-David Green welterweight title bout. This group looked like it was dressed for a night at a disco rather than an evening at the gym. Instead of Adidas there were handmade Italian shoes; Pierre Cardins outnumbered Levis and furs replaced down vests.
"It's a social event and this fight brings out the best," said John Johnson, of Washington, resplendent in a three-piece bone suit with matching bone Italian shoes, custom-made pale pink shirt, pink tie and pocket square, gold watch and two diamond rings.
"And Sugar Ray's into clothes, too," Johnson added. "I was at Britches last week and saw him spent $1,800 there."
"We always put on something special for the fights. It's natural for us and makes us feel good," said Kenneth Sanford, of Washington. He wore linen pants tucked into alligator cowboy boots, a leather jacket, white sunglasses and two diamond rings on one finger. His partner, Calvin Fredericks, also of D.C., went for a white gabardine suit, cowboy hat and blue suede shoes.
Three-piece suits were the order of the evening, as Washington's boxing fans gave the Centre a distinctive look. Everyone from high-school students to senior citizens dressed to the nines with matching tie and pocket-square sets much in evidence, along with gold medallions, pinkie rings, flowers in lapels and the ubiquitous cowboy hats. A group of spectators in tuxedos was also spotted.
Leonard, whose wardrobe has blossomed right along with his career, would have found many kindred clothes enthusiasts among his predominantly black audience last night.
"There are a lot of people here with a lot of money and everyone's trying to outdo each other," said Duane Rivera, a Washington computer specialist. "I dressed according to weather. It was raining, so I didn't want to wear a suit, but I did wear all my jewelry -- two diamond rings, two gold chains and my $1,500 gold watch. I know women and the first thing they look at is a man's hands -- a gold watch or ring will grab their attention."
Many of the women looked like they would end the evening on a dance floor. They tottered up and down the steep arena stairs on spike heels and adjusted their brightly colored skin-tight stretch pants, fur tails and cocktail hats in the ladies' room between rounds.
"I got dressed up for the fight because there are always parties afterwards," said Lois Stokes, of Baltimore.She wore a white crepe Grecian off-the-shoulder dress and friend Talaya Johnson came in a handkerchiefhem, silky wrap dress.
"This is my first fight," said Johnson. "But I dressed up in case I met someone important."
Robert and Lois Moore wore color-coordinated outfits -- including matching black monogrammed mufflers. Moore, a postal employee in Washington, is a regular at the fights, he said, and always gets dressed up -- last night suit, black shirt and red tie and pocket square.
His wife wasn't all that happy with her gray suit, red blouse, silver sandals and polka-dot stockings. "I got dressed up to keep up with him," said Lois Moore, pointing to her husband. "I would have loved to have worn jeans."