Many people think Sir Isaac Newton wrote the equation force equals mass times acceleration: F=m*a. He didn’t. His formula was Q=m*v. Momentum equals mass times velocity. Momentum is a curious thing. We spend much of our lives trying to find it. It seems to be this formless thing that you really want but can never quite attain, because it can’t be held. It can only be experienced. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent some time emotionally and mentally flagellating yourself because you can imagine what you would have accomplished if you’d been able to overcome inertia and gain some momentum. That little bit of momentum is all it would take to get us past all the bullshit obligations and tedium that keeps us locked in spaces and times that can really only ever be survived. We look at the people who have momentum and how they seem to plow past every problem, and goddammit, we know could do the same with a little shove.
It’s sweet to tell yourself lies, even if it isn’t always productive.
If either fighter in last Saturday night’s headliner on DAZN in Indio, Calif., had momentum, it was Alberto Machado. He had an undefeated record (increasingly meaningless in today’s market, but still valuable), an alphabet belt (always worthless, but people pretend it matters; people are funny that way about labels, but I digress), and a promoter who was/is invested in him (always valuable). His opponent, Andrew Cancio (20-4-2, 15 KO), had none of that and a full-time job.
Cancio – let’s be honest – was just a bit of friction that Machado’s momentum would easily overcome. Except, in boxing, inertia punches back. It probably didn’t seem that way in the first round when Machado (21-1, 17 KO) landed a looping right hand just behind Cancio’s ear that froze him long enough for a follow-up left hook to clip his chin and put him on his ass.
There was a clear disparity in athletic talent, and Machado was enjoying it in the second round, until the latter portions, when Cancio found some cold black iron in his soul and seemingly willed himself into being better than he was. Machado was in control, but Cancio suddenly had figured out that he was a few ballsy exchanges from making this about stones and not talent.
Isn’t that what we really want?
Cancio started the third aggressively, then 40 seconds into the round landed a sweeping left hook that scrambled Machado’s operating system. Machado’s eyes turned blank and his body switched to autopilot. Cancio chugged forward with new resolve, repeatedly snapping Machado’s head back. Cancio was calling the plays.
Inject that shit into my veins.
Between rounds, the stadium played Antonio Banderas’ mariachi song adding fond memories of a surrealist romp of the past to the one being played out in real time. I’m a Robert Rodriguez mark. Sue me.
Something special happens when you’re calling the play. The physical momentum shifted and, as Cancio came forward, Machado got pushed onto his heels. That extra advantage in time meant that Cancio’s punches crashed home when they hadn’t prior, and Machado’s sailed wide when they should’ve landed flush.
It wasn’t just the physical space; you could see Cancio’s confidence radiate. As Machado’s head cleared and the glaze lifted from his eyes, his face took on a new expression: panic. Cancio spiked a right hand into Machado’s diaphragm exactly halfway through the fourth, and the knee Machado took in response felt like the first conscious thing he’d done in minutes. It was as though he’d been knocked out but his body didn’t know, and his brain came back online just as his body was coding. Machado gamely rose, but he was done. Two more knockdowns followed shortly afterward, and referee Raul Caiz Jr. waived off the bout at 2:16 of the fourth round.
You can’t live your life through junior lightweights, but occasionally it’s nice to be reminded that we are really only a few ballsy exchanges away from a little momentum. Even if it ultimately leads to damnation, even if no one cares, it’s got to be nice to roll downhill for a change.
- I wanted to write an entire column about how negligent Diego Magdaleno’s corner was during his fight with Teofimo Lopez on Feb. 2, but it just turned into a page and a half of “THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?” I’m all for letting a guy go out on his shield, but the whole going-out-on-your-shield thing really only works if you’re compos mentis. Magdaleno was as fucked up as a football bat at the end of the sixth round, and his entire corner and referee Gregorio Alvarez should be ashamed.
- In this week’s “Old Man Yells at Cloud,” apparently Lopez’s KO celebration is from the video game Fortnite. I learned that from listening to ESPN’s Joe Tessitore. I know I was never cool, but holy shit, I’m old.
- OMYAC, Vol. 2: I like watching boxing on Sunday morning with my coffee. I’m not about to take a nap and have an evening coffee just to stay up and watch live on Saturday night, when the cards don’t get finished until 2 am EST. If I’m up that late, I’d better have a very drunk or very naked reason for being so. Preferably both.
- I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m beginning to not hate Andre Ward as an announcer. He and Tim Bradley play off each other nicely on ESPN, and they’re beginning to realize that the fight in front of them isn’t about them. The rest of us would do well to remember that.