WAIL! The CyberBoxingZone Journal
September 2000 issue

Notes of a Cornerman

By Tom Smario
(Miguel Arrozal versus Eloy Rojas
for the Featherweight Championship
of the world)

My God man, I'm giving him water,
rinsing his mouthpiece and trying
to keep the swelling out of his face.
Man, give me some help here! I can't
do it all! Keep the cameraman, inspector,
referee out of my way! I've got work to do.
I use my endswells on the right eye from the
first round on. A Rojas head butt perfectly
placed raises an ugly mouse under it.
Orlando, trainer, father and overly
emotional forgets his job. So I put
endswell on the eye and try to push
the swelling out. I put Thrombin on
the scrapes on his cheeks then Vaseline
and give Miguel some water to rinse
his mouth out. This in about 45 seconds.

Between rounds I'm talking to myself
but I'm together and organized and
watching the fight while I prepare
for the one precious minute. A recess
from Hell, then the buzzer sounds and
the referee screams seconds out and
I work the three minutes in between.

Miguel attacks and Rojas retreats
for the first six rounds. Miguel,
my friend, little brother, hits the
champion with shots that would bring small
countries down. Rojas, from South of the
border caught them on his elbows and forearms
and on his forehead and face as well.
Rojas caught a lot for six hot rounds.
The champion, his knees buckled three
times and his legs looked like rubber
that was heated. Like Gumby in a frying
pan but still poised and talented.

Miguel Arrozal from the Philippines,
gladiator, burned like a Roman Candle.
He fired straight and roundhouse missiles
and right hands that hurt before they
landed. It hurt watching them. I loved
watching them! He figured he could
knock him out. Figured nobody could
take shots like these. But energy
is spent by the second and what you
have is all there is. Punches require
fuel like bullets use gun powder and
Miguel was burning his up. First the legs
go, then the hands start to come down.

Seventh round comes and Eloy Rojas,
Champion Of The World is still there.
By God, the man had a beautiful defense.
The classic style of elbows tight
against the body and chin tucked under
the left shoulder. Lanky but muscular
and graceful. Reminded me of Alexis
Arguello. Killer with class. Mindset
of greatness.

His jab became like the tongue
of a serpent that licked the eyelids
of Miguel and infected them with South
American poison. Between the head butts,
elbows and snake bites his left eye
swelled completely shut and the right,
with lots of coaxing from me remained
open. The scrapes quit bleeding but
the swelling, his Asian face with its
bony structure and high cheekbones wanted
to balloon up but I wouldn't let it.
Rojas had poison but I had a few Dago
tricks of my own.

Eight, nine, ten. Now the rounds belong
to the champion. Championship rounds.
His punches are more vicious now and he
controls the tempo. A Latin beat to the
imaginary music in his head. He lands
more often and harder. The Roman Candle
is burning out. Still dangerous but fading.
Flickering. Rojas is damn near handsome now.
Everything he does is beautiful. His hair
still looks combed.

I figured its anybodys fight
on the scorecards. Suddenly Miguel
gets a cut above his right eye!
A huge, ugly, gaping gash under
the eyebrow! It's bleeding like
crazy! Oh my God I say to myself,
get a hold of yourself! The blood
is streaming down his face and forming
pools on his chest and leaving droplets
on the floor. Before he sits down,
before the bell was through ringing
I was in the corner waiting for him.
I put PRESSURE on it, then a bit of this
and some of that. It's all legal.
Everything I need, I have it between
my fingers. I concentrate and control.
We dont talk. I work without words
while his father talks to him.

Never in history does a minute go faster
than in the corner of a fight for
the championship of the world when
you are trying to keep a cut from bleeding.
A bad cut! Millions of people watching
on television in countless countries.
Featherweight Championship Of The World!
I've got one minute of a mans destiny
in my hands. His purpose at the tips
of my fingers and I love this guy. We've
spent thousands of hours working and
dreaming of this. So here we are and
now it's in my hands. These strong,
stubby, delicate fingers of mine!

I pray and God hears me. I've still got
PRESSURE on. Pressure is everything!
The buzzer sounds, I put Aquaphor on the cut
and Miguel who never felt a thing jumped
off his stool with a dry cut and the look
of a madman in the one eye that was still
half open.

The next two rounds come and go. The
final bell tolls. The bell tolls and tolls.
Miguel, gladiator is glowing with respect,
his face bruised, bloody and swollen.
He's on one side of the referee and Rojas
was on the other. The referee holds the
arm of each one of them. He is ready to
raise whichever arm belongs to the winner.

Then the announcer, Jimmy Lennon Jr.
takes the metallic microphone. He
holds it in his hand like a bouquet
of roses. Suddenly the pandemonium
stops and the place goes quiet. I
hear the ice clink in the guys
drink behind me. The winner and
STILL champion, Eloy Rojas! Ahhhhhhhh!
I can't believe it! In my mind we
have won! In my heart, my heart!

Crazy! The crowd booed and booed.
Mike Tyson sitting at ringside
shakes his head. Thomas Hearns
sitting behind him shakes his.
I reached up and overcome with emotion
grabbed Don King by the lapel of his
expensive tuxedo, pulled his massive
face down to mine, looked into his eyes
and said did we lose that fight, huh,
did we, look at me Don and tell me that
we actually LOST that fight! He did.
He said, Miguel put up a hell of a fight
but he didn't win. We didn't lose, but
we didn't win either. A dream to wake
up from. Our dream, our dream and our
hearts are broken. We went back to
the dressing room and cried. Miguel
and I.

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