In a span of 24 hours, Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather Jr., will have held news conferences in Washington — golf’s top draw and boxing’s biggest star, hyping vastly different events at vastly different venues.
I was thinking about going to Tiger’s shindig Wednesday, a hard left off a posh part of River Road. But after experiencing Money Mayweather and the shrieking at the Howard Theatre on T Street on Tuesday afternoon, it would just be a major letdown.
There is no Chuck Brown go-go beat thumping incessantly inside Congressional Country Club. There are no giant, blow-up bottles of beer book-ending the fighters with a pair of ring girls to sell the AT&T National golf tournament.
Tiger is never going to give you, “Adam Scott’s be-hind will be mine by Hole 9.” And even if he said that, there’s a 50 percent chance he couldn’t deliver. Physical and emotional issues have kept him out of his own tournament here three of six times.
Mayweather, meantime, declared Tuesday, “I don’t feel I’m the face of the sport. I know I’m the face of the sport.”
No one walks off the practice tee with a diamond-encrusted necklace in golf, boasting, “I don’t wear dog tags; I wear price tags.”
“A million?” I asked Mayweather after Canelo Alvarez stood nose-to-nose on the stage for the cameras, thus becoming the first people in recorded history not to move to go-go.
Mayweather put his thumbs up, indicating the cost of his dog-tag diamond rope, which I’m assuming wasn’t military issue, was higher. Finally, he whispered, “About $1.5 .”
If there is a title such as Bling King, a dream house on your neck pretty much qualifies, no?
I have no idea whether Alvarez has the speed or the strategy to become the first man to beat Mayweather, maybe the greatest defensive fighter ever who has not lost in 17 years and 44 fights as a professional. But Alvarez has got a left uppercut like Marvin Hagler and he relentlessly works the body like Julio Cesar Chavez. His hulking, linebacker neck has roughly the circumference of Guam. He’s probably the most famous red-haired fighter since Danny “Little Red” Lopez, a ferocious featherweight from the 1970s, and the most famous fighter of Mexican descent since Juan Manuel Marquez and before that maybe Oscar de la Hoya, who was on the dais Tuesday as the Golden Boy Productions promoter.
“Me siento orgullosa de ser Mexicana!” (I’m proud to be Mexican!”) Alvarez said as the Latino half of the crowd went absolutely primal, screaming, “CUH-NEH-LOW! CUH-NEH-LOW! and “VIVA MEX-ICO!”
Moments later, Mayweather stepped to the microphone and led the other half of the room, almost all black faces, in his famous chant. “HARD WORK!” he yelled. “DE-DI-CA-TION!” they yelled back.
The whole afternoon — part of a press tour that includes Grand Rapids, Mich., and Chicago later this week before heading to Mexico — came out of central casting:
The braggadocio black champion, bejeweled with even a diamond-encrusted pair of sunglasses, selling his sport like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Leonard and Mike Tyson used to. Then, it was easier to hype fights. Then, the notion that men get paid to incapacitate each other for a living was thought to be more noble than negligent.
The lunch-pail Latin challenger, ready to ply his trade and stop the brash champion from flapping his gums. Hailing from Jalisco, he could grow up to be the one man to drop Mayweather and make Sept. 14 in his country feel like Cinco de Mayo.
The highlights kept playing of each fighter, knocking down or knocking out their latest foes. The boos and cheers and projected sounds kept pounding the brain as the two camps brought all the stereotypes of race and pugilistic society out in the open, leaving one lasting impression:
You can’t make up the pomp, pageantry and pure ridiculousness of boxing.
Why the sport will never die, irrespective of how popular mixed martial arts, BMX or any extreme sports become? Because it rips away pretension, actually celebrates the politically incorrect idea of openly rooting for your own ethnicity, finding racial identification in someone who looks like you, beating up someone who doesn’t look like you.
It’s kind of what Tiger did for golf in some ways. The difference is, people have been paying good money for upwards of 16 years just because they want Tiger to win; a huge portion of fight fans have been paying Floyd Mayweather Jr., for two decades because they so badly want to see him knocked out.
Viva Mexico – or something like that.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.