Both flights went smoothly, but upon landing I heard that my scheduled cab-mate took a later flight and wouldn’t be meeting me as previously scheduled. Twenty minutes later I arrived at the Beau Rivage, whose hotel lobby is as glitzy and cavernous as I have yet seen. While I was checking in, ring announcer Joe Antonacci let his presence be known by calling out my name as only he could. After raving about my book “Tales from the Vault” (and later promising to purchase an autographed copy), he invited me to dinner.
I couldn’t have asked for a better dinner companion than “Generous Joe,” for over the next four hours we traded stories like Hagler and Hearns swapped punches – fast, furious and continuously. Our food got the same treatment and we ended up staying so long that we ate two meals. Every time we looked at the clock and promised to leave after the next story, that story would prompt a new tale from the other guy. The two-man party finally broke up shortly after 11:30 p.m. local time and we returned to our respective rooms.
Speaking of my room, there was a snag: The only ones available were for smokers. Because I possess a below-average sense of smell, I shrugged my shoulders and said OK. On the plus side, my 10th floor room had a wonderful panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico. The minus side was immediately evident upon my first breath.
Antonacci told me that smoking-only rooms are a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes the previous occupant chose to do his business elsewhere while others opted to use the room to suck in and exhale every bit of poison possible. Apparently, I got the latter.
Still, the effects faded after a few minutes and after completing my final tasks of the day I switched off the lights shortly after 1 a.m.
Photo / Fightwireimages.com
Lee Groves can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won five writing awards, and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc and the author of “Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics.” To order, please visit Amazon.com or e-mail the author to arrange for autographed copies.