As this is the introductory episode of this show, introductions are obviously in order. So, by way of that, I’m Lucy, and I have a confession – I don’t know jack about boxing. I typically recap little-watched dating shows, rather than little-watched sporty shows. When men have forced me to watch football, for instance, my end of the conversation goes something like, “Oh! That guy in the blue pants ran around in circles and then he fell down.” Not exactly incisive commentary right there. Nor does it have anything to do with boxing, but it’s a sport, and boxing’s a sport, so there you go – insight into my woefully linear thought patterns. Anyway, if you’re here expecting in-depth analysis of each boxer’s strengths or weaknesses, or how someone’s mental state could affect him in the ring, sorry, but you’re in the wrong place. I’m more likely to critique the boxers’ choice of colors for their little satin shorts. (Question: why satin?)
I could make the argument that my ignorance is actually a plus – I can explain this show in layman’s terms, instead of boxers’ terms. No confusing insider terminology here, no sir. But then that would assume I’m explaining the show to fellow non-boxing fans like myself, and I’m guessing the audience – if there is one – is not made up of non-boxing fans. I’m betting anyone watching this show likes boxing so much they’ll even watch it sliced and diced by Fox’s evil editors. Because this show sucks a big boxing glove. Seriously. It’s not the people in it, I’m sure they’re all fine people, mostly. It’s just that the show is bizarrely and confusingly pieced together as if the editors had all of two hours to splice the footage, and spent 45 minutes of it looking for an open 7-11 to get a 12-pack. It also looks, incidentally, as if the producers had all of two weeks to film the entire thing. As if, perhaps, another network already had a similar show in the works and was breathing down their necks. I’m just saying. So anyway, you’d have to be related to one of these guys to stick it out. Or be recapping it. And I don’t think that’s just my boxing ignorance talking. This never gets a chance to be bad boxing. This is bad TV. Period.
But, I watched it, so I might as well tell you what happened, in non-boxing terms. (Small spoiler – nobody falls down.)
Eye of the Tiger
You know that other unnamed boxing show on another unnamed network? Yeah, this isn’t it. This is the Oscar De La Hoya one. I’m not sure what exact role well-known boxer De La Hoya is supposed to play here – did he recruit these boxers for the show? Will he help them train? I’m hoping time will tell – but for this first episode, at least, he just sort of bops in and out. Anyway, the show’s premise is that 12 boxers will live together and train a lot, De La Hoya and two trainers – Lou Duba and Tommy Brooks -- will rank them, and each week two of them – the lowest ranked and his choice among the top-three ranked – will duke it out. The winner gets money and another week on the show, while the loser goes home. The ultimate winner gets more money and the chance to fight in some bigger venue.
All 12 also have a “confidante” – a girlfriend, relative or buddy who’s there for moral support. So that’s 24 people, and Fox is pretty lax about introductions so we’ll just figure out who they are later. And by the by, if anyone was watching this show just to see Oscar De La Hoya, tough noogies. He’s got about 30 seconds of screen time, and I’m not sure what the point is of him even being around except being a big name. Maybe that will change. Maybe he was just accidentally cut out by an editor’s Bud slipping down on one of the edit-board keys. Maybe I don’t care.
There’s no word of the selection process used to find these 12 boxers – they just magically appear on a helicopter pad on top of a very tall building. There, De La Hoya greets them – 10 seconds – and tells them their training begins …. NOW. They have to run down the stairs of this very tall building, and through the streets, evidently all the way to their training place, which looks like an abandoned warehouse.
Who Are These People?
There are some introductions dropped hither and yon throughout, so I’ll just gather them all up here.
First off we have four guys who Fox has pigeonholed with titles like “Ex-con”, “Prison Guard” – bet those two get along great – “Pretty Boy”, and “Golden Glove Champion.” I’m guessing this is Fox’s attempt at character development. Earth to Fox – just saying “Ex-con” with a split-second of explainer that he hit somebody isn’t going to cut it. Two minutes of backstory might have made me interested. All the boxers came in with their own cute little nicknames, anyway, so I’m not sure Fox’s ones will stick. Kind of like that Seinfeld episode where George wants to be called “T-Bone”, but it never catches on. It really is very hard to get other people to call you by a cool nickname.
Ok, ok, introductions:
David “Danger” Pareja – 26, from Chicago, Pareja is an amateur boxer whose wife PJ supports them while he pursues his boxing dreams. PJ’s on the show with him, and let’s just say these two really live for boxing. We’ll talk more about Pareja in a minute.
Arsenio “R.C. Rey” Reyes – 27, from Miami, Reyes is a pro boxer. His brother Arturo, also a boxer, is here with him.
Mike “Pit Bull” Vallejo – also 27 and from Miami. Vallejo and Reyes are friends and have trained together. In Vallejo’s corner for the show is his fiancé, Glenda.
Fred “Boom Boom” Bachmann – 31, from Philadelphia. Why in the world would you *want* to go by “Boom Boom”? Maybe it has something to do with being an elementary school teacher. Anyway, Bachmann’s a pro and has had one knockout in his three fights (if I’m reading the bio right). Bachmann’s brother Lance is on the show with him and seems poised to hog more screen time than his brother, as he tells us he’ll manipulate the system if necessary to help Boom Boom win.
Rene “Lone Star” Armijo Jr. – 20, from Los Angeles. He and his dad boxed when he was a kid, and his dad’s there with him for the show. “I’m looking to crack ribs, I’m looking to break noses,” Rene Jr. says. This is definitely not my usual dating-show drivel. Although it would be kind of cool to combine the two concepts.
Paul “The Perfect Storm” Scianna – 30, from South Orange, N.J. That’s an awfully long and unwieldy nickname, by the way. Scianna’s an amateur boxer AND a clothing designer. His sister Stephanie came on the show with him, and his mother doesn’t like him boxing.
James “Marvelous” Mince – 26, from New Orleans. Mince used to train with his brother, who died two years ago. He’s a pro with four K-O’s in his four fights. His uncle Elgin is in his corner.
Otis “Triple O.G.” Griffin – 26, from Sacramento. Why “triple” O.G.? Why not double? *sigh* Griffin is the prison guard, and is an amateur boxer. His sister Schonette is with him.
Gilbert “The General” Zaragoza – 29, also from Sacramento. This is the ex-con Fox was telling us about. He hit somebody in a not-just-for-sport fight. A boxer? Hit someone? Really? Whatever. He also won two Golden Gloves bouts, which might be impressive if I knew what the hell it meant. Now nine months out of prison, he just turned pro and won his first bout. His sister Deanna is with him.
Lawrence “Lights Out” Alonzo – 29, from Ontario, California. He’s an amateur, and his girlfriend Andrea is with him.
Luis “The Body Snatcher” Corps – 30, from Miami. Another unwieldy nickname. You’ve got to say these things out loud, guys, before choosing a nick. Anyway, Corps is a police officer and S.W.A.T. team member. He’s a pro, and his girlfriend Christy is in his corner.
Mohamad “The Monarch” ElMahmoud – 23, from Orlando. He’s an amateur and a grad student, and his girlfriend Amanda is along for the ride.
Whew! That’s it. I can kind of see why Fox let the intros slide. That took a long time.
Maybe If Obi Wan Smoked Too Many Cigars
At the warehouse, the boxers meet Duba and Brooks, who are evidently so legendary that Rene gushes that training with them is like learning from a Jedi Master. This is one of those points where I’m clueless – these men *could* be Jedi Masters, I don’t know. They look gruff enough to be legendary. One of them growls that he has trained a lot of boxers but has also chased off a lot of imposters who didn’t feel the Force.
The rankings and challenges are explained, and several boxers seem to zero in on the cash purse for winners. Evidently if you’re ranked last, you’re fighting for free that week even if you win the bout. That’s a no-no for these guys.
To quickly sort out this rankings thing, the trainers announce the first competition will start right away. The winner will get $10,000 and top ranking. “Do yourself a favor. Don’t screw up,” advises one of the trainers. Sage advice, my man.
As it happens, the competition is not boxing. It is a competition to see who makes the best vampire. No, I’m kidding. But they ARE hanging upside down from their ankles, in blood-sucker fashion. The boxers are to do upside down sit-ups, and whoever does the most in a set time frame wins.
I could give you a play-by-play, but c’mon – it’s sit-ups. The only interesting thing that happens, until the end, is that while Mince does 30 sit-ups, he’s holding his leg with one hand for 20 of them, so only 10 count. What in the world made him think it was ok to hold his leg and help pull himself up? He sure didn’t see anyone else doing it. Rene tells us that Mince cheated, and thinks it says something about Mince’s personality.
Finally the sit-up competition is down to a sit-off – or whatever – between Scianna and Pareja. By one sit-up, Pareja wins. He’s ranked number one, and he gets the $10,000. His wife is elated. But, she says snippily, she thinks the other people could have been more congratulatory towards her and Pareja. Why? Why should they be? They just met you, fool. So far you’ve come across like a money-grubbing beyatch. And it’s a boxing competition, not a beauty pageant. No one’s required to fake happiness for you. Get over it.
But as it happens, David Pareja is one of the few boxers whose name I remembered by the end of this show, and there’s a very good reason for that – his trash-talking, race-baiting, self-aggrandizing talk got him a lot of screen time. Mr. Pareja thinks the Hispanic and black boxers don’t take him seriously, because he’s white. They had to fight their way out of ghettos while he … didn’t, or something. Maybe he’s saying his background doesn’t give him any street credibility. I really meant to go back to the tape and try to figure out his logic here, but by the end of the show I realized it didn’t matter – if Pareja was a 98-pound green Martian who boxed with light-sabers, he would still think he was the best boxer there, and he would still think the others underestimate him. But there is no chance of Pareja underestimating himself, so I say it’s a wash.
With Pareja and his ego taking up the top five spots, it’s time for De La Hoya and the trainers to rank the rest of them. They go off somewhere to watch film of each boxer, and it looks to me like the film is being shown on a warehouse wall – it’s all grainy, like Fox was going for some arty indie-film look. Anyway, they debate a lot over who has the technical skills and who has the heart to make it as a boxer.
Meanwhile, the boxers go to a loft where they’ll live together during the show. I’m not sure where their confidantes are living. The loft looks nice enough, but they’re sleeping in bunk beds in one room. Pareja, Mr. Congeniality, whines about the communal shower and the lack of a hot tub, Jacuzzi or television. Somebody definitely has a sense of entitlement here. Did he think he was going boxing at the country club?
All That And a Small Snack-Size Bag of Chips
On to the rankings. Pareja, who won the top ranking by winning the sit-up competition, says he’s “far superior” to the other boxers. Already the other boxers are sensing that he’s not a real friendly guy – Rene says he wants to be the one to take Pareja out.
1 – Pareja
2 – Griffin
3 – Vallejo
4 – Scianna
5 – Bachmann
6 – Zaragoza
7 – Armijo
8 – ElMahmoud
9 – Corps
10 – Alonzo
Eleven and twelve are a bit trickier – the trainers debated over whether Jimmy Mince, because he cheated, should be an automatic last place. Trainer Tommy Brooks – I think – tells Mince that if Brooks had his way, he’d kick Mince out for that stunt. Cheating like that, Brooks says, shows that Mince would stoop to any low trick, like head-butting or something – ear-biting, maybe? -- to win a bout.
But Brooks also has some words for Reyes, who he said walks around “like you’re a bag of chips and all that.” Evidently the message here is that Reyes is not a bag of chips. Maybe he’s just a few chips. Or one of the broken ones at the bottom of the bag.
In the end, the judges decided that Mince will be ranked 11, and Reyes will be 12 – last, which means he has to choose one of the top three to fight.
Reyes is upset by his dead-last ranking. Talking outside to his brother, he says he was leaning towards refusing to fight at all – which would automatically force him to leave the show. But the brother is having none of that loser talk. He says if Reyes was going to quit like that, he shouldn’t have come in the first place. The brother also wants Reyes to get his head in the game, and not go into the ring half-assed, because if he’s not concentrating he could get hurt. At least, that’s how I understood it.
Meanwhile, the top three are wondering who Reyes will choose. Pareja says Reyes shouldn’t choose him, for Reyes’ own sake. Vallejo – the one who grew up with Reyes – doesn’t want to fight Reyes.
Reyes finally calls the boxers – and their sidekicks – together to announce his decision. He quickly eliminates Otis. Then he goes on and on about the “mad history” between himself and Vallejo, finally concluding that because of their friendship, he cannot box him. That leaves Parejo as the man in the opposite corner. Tearfully, Reyes explains that it’s nothing personal, but Pareja was ranked number one. “If I’m going to get my head beat in, it’s going to be by the number one guy,” Reyes says.
Pareja doesn’t give a rat’s behind. He says Reye’s explanation, and tears, are “mental warfare” and he won’t fall for it. Wife PJ encourages this mentality, telling Pareja not to go easy on Reyes just because he’s nice. “No more Mr. Nice Guy,” Pareja agrees. Whoa! We were seeing Mr. Nice Guy? I seriously fear what a not-nice Pareja looks like.
The Voices Tell Me This Ass-Whupping Is Personal
Both men have trained for an indeterminate amount of time with the two trainers, and come into the match with rather opposite mental states. Reyes tells us that courage isn’t the absence of fear. “Courage is doing what you gotta do in the presence of fear.” Pareja, who knows no fear, nor humility, claims to be “unstoppable” and says Reyes is “a nobody. He’s not my friend.”
The two get weighed in, and before the match they each meet with De La Hoya, who uses his last seconds of screen time to ask about their game plans. It’s boxing, so I would figure their game plans are to beat the crap out of the other guy, or at least not get a bloody nose.
Reyes’ last-place finish has him second-guessing his boxing abilities. But as the bout approaches, he seems to have pumped himself back up. “There’s nothing personal about an ass-whupping,” he tells us. Hm. Maybe not in the world of boxing, there’s not. I guarantee you your average, outside-the-ring ass-whupping is usually personal. Rarely do people perform an ass-whupping on strangers for no personal reason.
Anyway, Pareja thinks the Mexicans and the blacks – these are his words, people – are rooting against him, because he’s white. Sure, that’s the only reason. They couldn’t be rooting against him because he’s a turd. Or because his wife is a blood-thirsty harpy. She tells Pareja that she “can’t wait for you to bust him up.” Quite the dainty little thing, isn’t she?
For the record, Reyes’ little satin shorts are red and blue, while Pareja’s are silver and black.
Finally we get down to the fight. This is basically four rounds of boxing, punctuated by a scantily-clad ring girl. Disembodied voices commentate on the match for us, while we see Reyes’ and Pareja’s trainers and confidantes advising them and screaming for them, respectively.
The commentator voices are there, I guess, to make it sound like a real boxing match, but they’re also telling us what to think – who won what round, who the crowd is pulling for – and I find them distracting and disturbingly Big Brother-like. Where are these voices coming from, anyway? Show me a face, dammit!
Although I must admit, if it weren’t for the Voices I’d be even more clueless than I am. They tell me Reyes is doing well but isn’t showing much technique. Um, ok. I’ll buy that. I don’t know any different.
Anyway, as judged by me and the Voices, Reyes comes out fighting in the first two rounds, getting some pretty good licks in. For a few moments, we all hope he’ll whup ass in a thorough but non-personal fashion. But Pareja comes back in the last two rounds, and in a unanimous decision of judges who I haven’t seen, Pareja is deemed the victor. He says it was a huge mental victory because it was the first fight of the show. Reyes is, naturally, disappointed, and says while he can think of many things he could have done differently to prepare, he’s now “done with it.”
Bachmann’s brother is deceitful and annoys the heck out of a lot of people. Also, someone leaves the ring “fighting for their life.” That could just be a boxing euphemism, but the ambulance shot suggests not.
You can send a personal ass-whupping to firstname.lastname@example.org. But only if the Voices tell you to.