And so I remembered one of the best essays on boxing I have ever read, June Jordan's "Requiem for the Champ," about Mike Tyson's upbringing and our hyper-masculine media/ violent culture. I remembered (none other than) Joyce Carol Oates' sincere love for boxing, which she got from her father, and her acclaimed book, On Boxing. I remembered one of my favorite new poets, Kevin A. Gonzalez, and his poem, "The Night Tito Trinidad KO'ed Richard Mayorga," which he calls a political poem, but does not refer in depth to the actual fight.
And there's Philip Levine. He has one of the best blurbs I've read, on the back of What Will Suffice: Contemporary Poets on the Art of Poetry, a great book of Ars Poeticas from Agha Shahid Ali, John Ashbery, Rita Dove, Peter Everwine, Garrett Hongo, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ann Lauterbach, Juan Felipe Herrera, Larry Levis, and Naomi Shiab Nye, and dozens of others.
"Did Ray Robinson have a vision of why boxing mattered and a notion of how it should be practiced? I would doubt it, although after a time I'm sure he knew from experience it required the best his mind and body could give, and I'm sure he worked very hard so they could give their best. The night he took the middleweight title from Jake LaMotta he must have known that all his work and his talent had come together at the perfect moment, and he was the greatest fighter in the world: he knew all there was about his art, and he acted on that knowledge. Such is the nature of genius.
I live in a different world, perhaps the same world grass lives in, and at certain times I grow and green without the least notion of why one day is different than another. Afterwards I'm amazed at what I've done and feel victorious without having defeated anything or anyone. The next morning I'm in the dark working without the least confidence I know anything useful or final about the making of poems."
Barbara Jane Reyes writes about Manny Pacquiao and defers to Patrick Rosal's grasp of boxing's terminology, in his recount of the fight.