Road to Rota Part IV: A fight that never was

12 Dec 2000 | Cpl. Derek A. Shoemake 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Editor's Note: Road to Rota is a four-part series that follows the author, who has no boxing experience, into his own fight at a boxing tournament in Rota, Spain. This is the final installment.After the mental preparation, the devotion and the weeks of training, I think I had the shortest fight in the history of boxing: 0 minutes and 0 seconds.Meaning there was no fight. Apparently the Rumble in Rota coincided with a Spanish holiday, and some follow-on confusion resulted in no truck drivers available to transport the boxing ring.It's a good thing for the other guy, because I had this lucky feeling. Or perhaps I was just lucky the ring didn't show up. Regardless, based on some scientific research I conducted using probabilities and laws of averages, I have constructed what would have happened at my bout:My opponent, the Sailor, came in first. He wore solid red trunks and looked a little afraid. Rightly so, my school-bus yellow trunks with the blue stripes drew massive applause from the 10,000-plus crowd. It was mostly the beautiful Spanish women who had packed the stands to see me do the running man dance circa M.C. Hammer's hit "U Can't Touch This" to the beat of the Offspring's "Pretty Fly for a White Guy." It took nearly 20 minutes to calm the crowd, who had already started chanting my name.With the fans finally hushed, the bell started round one. After a little motivational speech from my corner man Cpl. Rick O'Connor, I was face-to-face with the Sailor.I was stunned by his quick left jab followed by a solid right cross. I did not expect him to come out so strong. I stepped back, and he came in with a left hook to the body. I was blocking my head so his fist planted square in my rib cage. I could barely breath. My hands dropped from my head and he used the opportunity to clock me in the nose, causing blood to dribble down my face.Chief Warrant Officer-3 William Joseph, the fight official, pulled us apart. I took the few moments to collect myself. I was off to a bad start. It was only two minutes into the fight and I was already bleeding. Losing was one thing, but losing in front of the beautiful Spanish women who had come to watch my moves was unacceptable.As soon as he let us go I came back strong. I hammered a jab into his body and then his head. I followed that by launching a right uppercut into his jaw. He stumbled back dropping both his hands. I took it as invitation to pilot my right cross into his left eye socket, cutting him just above the brow as the bell sounded.In my corner O'Connor told me I was dropping my left. I asked what I should do and he replied "Don't drop your left."The 2nd round action began with the Sailor. Hungry for more blood he landed two left hooks to my body before showing me stars with another right cross. That's when he made the mistake that lost him the fight. He shot his right arm out for another cross, only I saw this one coming. I knocked his hand away with my right glove, and pitched two jabs into his nose. He was so dazed I was able to come in with a right cross, a left hook, a right hook and send him hobbling backwards with another uppercut.In amateur boxing there are not many knockouts. This is due to the headgear and extra padding. This was not so in my fight. Once I saw he was vulnerable, I began chopping him down with combinations of jabs and right crosses until he collapsed onto the mat and I had my victory.I walked around the ring while the Spanish ladies threw flowers at my feet. They shouted "el es mejor que un matador," which translates to "he is better than a bull fighter."Again, if my research is correct, that is what would have occurred had the boxing ring arrived on time. Still, it's not a total loss. I learned a few punches and a good way to workout. According to 1stLt. Rafael Candelario, one of the men who helped in organizing the event, boxing is also a great source of discipline."It teaches you control, technique and the mental fortitude to use those things properly."Candelario, who used to compete in full-contact karate, would know. He said his biggest fight ever was against the heavyweight champion of Poland."I lost, but I went the distance with him. No one had ever done that before," he said.Though the Road to Rota may not have ended in my big fight, at least I have an undefeated record.
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)