One of the most compelling things about professional sports has always been the story lines. A good back story can rescue even a boring event and make it something worth watching. While there will always be a select few hardcore fans of any given athletic pursuit that watch the X's and O's closely, a large majority of the fans want some off the field drama to draw their interest.
Boxing fans know that their sport is probably ahead of all others when it comes to providing a good story line. There is something very intimate about two combatants in the ring separated by only the leather and padding in their gloves.
While every fighter and every fight has its own story, few can match up to the behind the scenes tail of Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman's Yankee Stadium battle this Saturday.
First there is the story of Cotto. This is one we have been told before, a formerly great champion trying to hang on in what seems to be the twilight of his career.
The cruelty of boxing has been well documented, but it is especially evident in this case. Cotto is only 29 years old. He has lost only twice, once to Antonio Margarito, who was soon after caught cheating, and once to Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers of this generation.
In a more fair world, losses like these would be able to be overlooked. Boxing, however, is anything but fair.
Cotto has absorbed enough punishment in these fights and others that critics have legitimately asked the question of how much is left in his tank. If he wants to continue competing at the top level of his sport, he will have to get by Foreman, a man with quite a story of his own.
Born in the former Soviet Union, Yuri Foreman started boxing because his mother was tired of watching him taunted and beaten for his Jewish heritage.
After moving to Israel, Foreman joined a boxing gym that was mostly frequented by Arab fighters. Foreman had to spar with these men, many of whom were much larger than him, to gain their respect. Gain it he did, quickly becoming the prize pupil and making some unlikely friendships in the process.
After moving to the United States to further his career he was encouraged by his future wife Leyla Leidecker (also a boxer) to become more involved in his Jewish faith. Call it coincidence or a sign from above, but the first sermon he heard on his return to organized religion involved a boxing metaphor.
Foreman has since decided to take his faith to the ultimate level, and has enrolled in Rabbincal school. His goal to be both a world champion boxer and and Rabbi is certainly about as unique as sports storylines get.
Then finally you have the venue. This will be the first boxing match at the new Yankee Stadium. The old ballpark was home to some all time classic fights, and both Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammed Ali made it their home for some memorable nights.
Oh yeah, by the way, if the storys havent hooked you, you still have two pretty darn good boxers fighting for a jr. middleweight title. What more can a boxing fan, or any human being for that matter, ask for in terms of entertainment?
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