Monday, September 3, 2007


The father of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005, may he R.I.P.

The preachers and the religious right will tell you that gambling is a sin and a dangerous disease. But millions of people in this country are hopeless addicts with a syringe called a slot machine dangling from the last vein in their arm.

The zealots, the ones that elected George W. Bush and Senator Craig of the men’s room stall, will tell you that if you gamble then when judgment day comes, and it will come, like death and taxes, that you’re going straight to the underground. Down there it is very hot and there is a man there who wears a red suit, has horns and carries a pitchfork

The great doctor, Hunter S. Thompson, to whom this particular column is dedicated, preached to you that if you were going to be a betting man that “Any jackass that who will bet his heart instead of his head…is either a brain dead sucker or temporarily insane.”

But I can’t get this Kelly Pavlik kid out of my heart so that makes me one of the above and probably both. Bad craziness.

The sun is setting earlier here now up on the hill in the thick woods of Maine. The air has a different feel as summer begins to turn to fall. Packs of wild, bloodthirsty coyotes roam the country road at night in front of my fortified compound while they search for prey and howl outside my bedroom window until all hours of the morning. Vermin.

In the day, flocks of wild turkeys criss-cross the property searching for food while trying to keep away from the predators. The apples in the orchards are dropping to the ground and the deer are fat with glee as they chomp away under the pale moonlight.

Winter is coming and I am getting ready to settle in.

Kelly Pavlik is going to fight Jermain Taylor from Arkansas on the 29th of this month down by the shore in Atlantic City and he looks like a sure bet to me. Depending on how the odds go I may just make a telephone call to double down. Pavlik can’t miss! As the natives say up heyah in Maine, “He’s the best thing I seen come down the pike in a long time. Ayuh!”

And I’ve been watching this hardest game pretty damn close for nearly 30 years now.

I can feel the good vibes washing up the coast from Atlantic City. A.C. is where my wife Rebecca and I got engaged on the beach and where I very nearly got into a drunken brawl with some Arturo Gatti fans because I dared scream my guts out loud for my New England brethren Micky Ward when he fought Gatti there twice. Jesus, those wops are territorial bastards. Worse than a pack of roving coyotes. More like hyenas or jackals. It was like an episode of The Sopranos minus Paulie Walnuts.

But I’ve been wrong before. My wallet is still smarting from the huge losses suffered from the Evander Holyfield versus Johnny Ruiz trilogy because every one of those games of charades went the wrong way in a bad way. Those three nights nearly sent me into a financial death spiral and I was ready to swear off boxing forever and become a joyless alcoholic. But those are withdrawals of a different sort. That’s another story for another day…OK?

Ho ho. If you saw the way Pavlik tore through a Colombian destroyer named Edison Miranda then I need say no more. Pavlik brutalized the South American and by the time it was over I was surprised that this young animal named Pavlik, from Ohio, wasn’t carrying the bloody pieces of Edison Miranda out of the ring in his mouth. It was a gory mess that shocked everyone. I thought I saw people at ringside turning away in horror the same way they do when they see the blood spattered placards and posters the abortion abolitionists on the street corners hold up.

In the process, Pavlik became the #1 contender for the middleweight championship of the world. And this is no alphabet/paper championship either. This is for the real thing, the championship that Jermain Taylor and HBO usurped from Bernard Hopkins and it’s the championship that he has managed to hang onto only by the skin of his Arkansas Razorback. Taylor’s been the benefactor of more close decisions than George W. you know.

But Taylor’s rein is coming to an end on the 29th and I’ve got a lot of money on Pavlik that says so, too. Yes, this Pavlik is a can’t miss and I’m going all in folks. Jesus, Taylor may not come out of this one alive or the very least he’ll be in two pieces.

Taylor says he’s heavy like a swine and he almost tried to run away from this fight like a fat pig lost in the woods. But the public wouldn’t let him and HBO couldn’t save his ass so he’s locked himself away in the Pocono Mountains with his trainer Emanuel Steward to see if they can work the suet off him.

A propaganda story was floated up from that underground camp last week. Taylor said he feels as good as ever, maybe better. But he hasn’t had to step on the scales yet either. It’s all mystery and smoke and mirrors anyway. Cloak and dagger stuff. I thought I saw a look on Steward’s face that was the same one on Hitler’s mug before he locked himself away in the bunker in 1945.

No, I think in a serious fight with Kelly Pavlik that Jermain Taylor, as the great Hunter S. Thompson would have said, “Will curl up like a worm in a bonfire.” Ho ho.

Only three more weeks or so and we’ll have new middleweight champion of the world and I’ll have enough money to keep the wife from filing for divorce and enough greenbacks to beat the black suited bill collectors back from the door until spring.


September 2007