Tuesday, July 17: Open Workout
It was nice to sleep in today, but not too long. My better half and I had several things to do before today’s workout session featuring Adrien Broner and Vicente Escobedo. I assumed this would be a well attended event so I planned to get there by noon. We pulled in to the nearly vacant lot at the Mt. Auburn Rec Center just north of downtown Cincinnati. I walked inside and the polite young lady at the door told me that yes there is a boxing gym here, but she didn’t know anything about a workout this afternoon. Realizing that parking wasn’t going to be an issue, we decided to leave and have lunch. The University of Cincinnati isn’t far from the rec center and there are plenty of restaurants surrounding campus.
We arrived back at the rec center shortly after one o’clock. Still no one there. Momentarily two cars pull up. Out of one car gets a man sharply dressed in a suit and carrying a large sidearm on his hip. I assumed he was security though when I asked him he would neither confirm or deny that. I notice the man in the other car has Battle On The Banks posters in his car windows. I walk over to try and procure a nice addition to my man cave and when he opens the door, I realize I’ve seen this man before. I say “Hi, I’m Steven Schnell” and he introduces himself as “The ‘Problems’ daddy”. I take the opportunity to ask him some general questions about his boy. I ask him if what I’d read about Adrien going up to 135 was true. He said that it was and that they’d like to fight Gamboa on Pay-Per-View. I then asked him if there was any chance of that fight happening here in Cincinnati. He said it would have to be in Vegas, I kind of figured that, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask right? He was nice enough to give me a poster out of his back seat. I thanked him for the poster and his time and went back to my vehicle until I started seeing the press roll in about ten till two.
Inside the gym it was extremely warm and the sweat beaded on my forehead almost instantly. I went and introduced myself to Art Neuman, he’s in charge of the local Golden Gloves Chapter. Art and I had spoken on the phone about a month ago and it was nice to put a face with the name. He took us around and showed us various posters and press clippings of fighters who came through the gym and did well for themselves, and also pointed out different folks of note who were in attendance. Art is a genuinely nice man who loves the sport of boxing (the amateurs in particular), and while he talked I wondered to myself how many young men’s lives he helped shape in his 80 years.
Broner arrived shortly after 2:00 and after changing came to the ring and started shadowboxing. As fast as he looks on television, in person his speed is amazing. He definitely has the entertainer act down as his workout consisted of a great stand-up act that went on while he demonstrated his God-given boxing prowess. The mitts were next and he and Mike Stafford worked together for what seemed like six or seven rounds straight. Normal men would have wilted in the heat of the gym, but there he was still hammering away and still talking. The people in his circle would whoop and holler and with Broner still slinging one-liners the atmosphere was almost jubilant.
When he finished working the mitts, I thought that the show was over. It wasn’t. He moved to the heavy bag for another 20 minutes or so, letting us know what was going to happen to his foe come Saturday night. Watching on with my eyes as big as saucers, I had no reason to doubt him.
His session lasted an hour plus, and then he took a seat on the edge of the ring to cool down. At this point he was directly in front of me and he took the opportunity to include me in his act. He pointed out that my LeBrons needed to go, and that I should get some Jordans. “C’mon man you gotta swag up”, he said. All I could do was laugh like a fool and nod in agreement. Some people have the gift of gab and he certainly does. He stuck around long enough to talk to a few more people then it was time for him to leave, but not before signing some autographs for the children that were there and coming back over to shake my hand and pose for a picture.
In stark contrast to the Broner workout, Vicente Escobedo’s session lasted only about fifteen minutes. There was no talking, and not much audience interaction. He too began with some shadowboxing to warm up but then went to the speed bag and finished with some jump roping. Under the watchful eye of Joel Diaz, Escobedo’s workout seemed more stern, and very focused on the job at hand. Most of the crowd and press had gone by this time and I almost felt bad for him, and I wondered what it must be like to come to another guy’s hometown to fight him in a bout you are supposed to lose.
Escobedo left the gym to little fanfare, and we left to go pick up our little one from the sitter. It had been a blast and I had taken a few decent pictures, which I plan to post. Tomorrow will bring a media conference call at one o’clock, I’m hoping to clear a block of time right around then so I can at least listen in. I’ll get some of my prefight homework knocked out tonight, and go to work tomorrow to tell everyone who will listen about today’s workout session. It less then five days until the fight!