At MGM: Some folks at the fight watching NBA
Following is a timeline of goings on at the MGM Grand Garden arena during the undercard bouts of the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila)
7:45 p.m. (10:45 p.m. EDT)
Leo Santa Cruz’s undercard fight with Jose Cayetano was not exactly compelling, but it didn’t really matter to true sports fans enjoying everything that Super Saturday had to offer, thanks to modern technology.
Looking around the now-packed stands in the MGM Grand Garden arena, you could see dozens of people staring intently at their phones and reacting whenever a big shot is made in the Los Angeles Clippers’ seventh game against the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
When the Clippers clinched the victory, a ripple of cheers could be heard in the arena. Meanwhile, Santa Cruz keeps hacking away at Cayetano.
7:15 p.m. (10:15 p.m. EDT)
Just one fight left on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao undercard: Leo Santa Cruz’s bantamweight debut against unheralded Jose Cayetano.
Santa Cruz, a Los Angeles-area fighter and a staple on major undercards for years, is a huge favorite against Cayetano, who acknowledged it in the fighters’ news conference. But give Cayetano points for moxie: He walked to the ring to the theme song from “Rocky,” every boxing underdog’s clarion call.
The crowd is finally starting to fill in, with most of the fans near ringside dressed at least semi-formally.
Richard Schaefer, the former Swiss banker who turned Golden Boy Boxing into a powerhouse before falling out with Oscar De La Hoya and leaving the company, has a prominent seat with his wife near ringside.
7:04 p.m. (10:04 p.m. EDT)
Vasyl Lomachenko got the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view card started with style in a one-sided thrashing of Puerto Rico’s Gamalier Rodriguez, winning in a ninth-round stoppage.
Rodriguez went down in the seventh round and again in the ninth, unable to contend with Lomachenko’s hand speed and overall skill. Rodriguez tried to survive with several low blows, but was docked two points by referee Robert Byrd, who waved off the fight when Rodriguez stayed down on one knee deep into the count in the ninth round.
Lomachenko clearly is an elite talent, but he realizes he needs bigger fights against big-name opponents to build his reputation. He wants to unify the featherweight titles: “Anyone with a title belt in my division, that’s who I want to fight.”
6:53 p.m. (9:53 p.m. EDT)
Vasyl Lomachenko was a wise choice by Top Rank for the first bout of the pay-per-view undercard for any boxing novices tuning in to the show.
The two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist is teaching a master class in artful boxing against Gamalier Rodriguez, battering the Puerto Rican challenger around the ring with elegant footwork and brutal combinations.
Lomachenko forced Rodriguez to take a knee in the seventh round after a series of delicious combinations. Rodriguez has hit Lomachenko low throughout the fight, losing two points on penalty deductions, but it hasn’t slowed down the champion.
Lomachenko won a title belt in just his third professional fight last year. He would have had it even earlier, but Orlando Salido brawled his way to a narrow win in Lomachenko’s second bout with many dirty tactics.
Against Rodriguez, Lomachenko is showing he has the experience to persevere through dirty shots while maintaining his beautiful style.
6:33 p.m. (9:33 p.m. EDT)
The crowd was mostly slow to get to its seats for the pay-per-view undercard portion of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s bout with Manny Pacquiao, but the red carpet was hopping.
Early-arriving celebrities included Denzel Washington, Jake Gyllenhaal, Don Cheadle, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Allison Janney, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson, Ben Schwartz, director Antoine Fuqua and a long list of boxing luminaries from Mike Tyson to Ruslan Provodnikov.
The biggest names will roll in later, and they probably won’t deign to walk the red carpet set up for the event. Boxing aficionado Jack Nicholson is expected, as is tough-guy aficionado Clint Eastwood. Even casino employees are waiting to see whether a few elusive A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Brady show up.
6:14 p.m. (9:14 p.m. EDT)
The Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao card has just seven fights, but the joint promotion somehow managed to employ four ring announcers.
HBO and Showtime each wanted their respective signature voices on the shared broadcast, so Jimmy Lennon Jr. and Michael Buffer are sharing duties, with each introducing one main-event fighter. While Lennon and Buffer preserved their pipes for the big show, two other veteran ring announcers took care of the non-televised undercard bouts.
Lennon introduced the first fight on the pay-per-view show, welcoming Ukrainian featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko and Puerto Rican challenger Gamalier Rodriguez to the ring.
The stands are still mostly empty, which is a pity. Lomachenko is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Top Rank believes he’ll be a worldwide star soon.
6 p.m. (9 p.m. EDT)
The sun is going down on the Las Vegas Strip, and the first fans have filed into the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s bout with Manny Pacquiao.
The casino has been buzzing with activity since morning, and the well-heeled boxing fans lucky enough to get a ticket are starting to fill up the stands. Thousands of people without tickets are milling around the entrances to the arena, hoping to glimpse anything interesting around boxing’s biggest fight in several years.
The early-arriving crowd even included Floyd Mayweather Sr., who sat quietly in the stands to watch a decision victory for Chris Pearson, a middleweight in the Mayweather promotional stable.
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