Three nights ago, inside the Hoops Dome of Lapu-Lapu City, there transpired a circus. The clown was a Canadian. Shirtless, bald-headed, and wearing the attire that all clowns wear (gold tennis shorts with yellow socks and yellow Nike hi-cuts), he was the comedian. Opposite him was a serious, all-business-like A.J. Banal.
Tyson Cave, now nicknamed ‘The Caveman,’ acted, well, like a caveman. He bent low, hunched forward, gritted his teeth, hopping side to side. Hailing from Halifax, Canada, the 29-year-old promised to entertain the crowd and to dispatch of Banal. He achieved the former; he failed miserably in the latter.
Sport is entertainment. It’s fun; it’s a show. We watch sports to evoke our emotions, to get titillated; possibly, angered. The Prince of Hali, as Tyson was formerly called prior to his new “Caveman” moniker, was entertaining.
Together with Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza and Councilor Harry Radaza, I sat at the front row. We were right behind the corner of the ALA Gym boxers. The Hoops Dome (with tickets priced as low as P100) was nearly 100 percent full.
Cave taunted Banal. He laughed at him; cried when a low blow was delivered. Once, when the comic fell to the ground and had his eyes locked on Banal’s ALA Gym coaches, he spewed invectives.
In Round One, Tyson lifted AJ and catapulted him to the ground. In Round Two, he did the same. Was this wrestling? The UFC? His tactic—from the day he arrived Monday last week—was obvious: to outrage, to mock, to distract, to puzzle Banal so that the 22-year-old from Ermita couldn’t enact his Mactan game plan.
Both fighters weighing-in at 117.75 lbs., it was Cave whose ego was overweight. Only 20 minutes left prior to his bout, he was still walking about, high-fiving the Hoops Dome crowd.
Tyson’s a prankster; not a boxer. Inside the ring, he shuffled his feet, showing off his footwork, as if to dance Footloose. His body splashed with tattoos all over, he leaned forward fronting Banal, with no defenses to cover his face, always tormenting and provoking.
Once, he got punched near the buttocks by AJ. He complained to the referee. Then, he did the most absurd act I’ve seen a supposedly world-class boxer do: he turned his butt facing AJ, slapped it as if to say, “Spank me here, baby!”
Crazy. Entertaining? Yes. Boxing? No. Dirty tactics? Oh, he had plenty. He’d throw low blows against AJ. He hugged AJ, lifted him up, then carried him down to the floor. Binuang.
In the end, when Banal suffered a deep cut above his right eye that elicited an outflow of red fluid, the fight was stopped with 28 seconds left in Round 8.
Banal won via unanimous decision. Did he deserve it? Absolutely. It was one-sided. But, what was Tyson Cave’s reaction, when interviewed by writer Monty Mosher of The Chronicle Herald of Canada?
“‘This s—t has got to stop in boxing,’ he said. ‘I came all over the way over here. I promoted this fight. I could have got a world title shot if I won this. They stole this from me.’”
This guy has gone bonkers. Added Cave’s father: “‘Tyson outpunched the guy and out-boxed the guy,’ said Robert Cave, Tyson’s father and manager. ‘And they gave him the decision. I can’t believe it. It was no head butt, it was a punch. They aren’t going to let that boy get beat, that’s what it is,’ he added. ‘This guy was sucking wind. He couldn’t handle Tyson’s speed, his punches.’”
With AJ, it was a pity to see blood dripping off his cheeks and chest starting the 4th round. From that time on, he was a one-eyed fighter. He winced. His sight was restricted. Had there been no three-centimeter cut, he’d have KO’d the laughingstock enemy.
In the end, the crowd booed. Fans never want to see a fight stopped. When Tyson walked towards his dugout, he was heckled. I saw someone throw a plastic bottle at him.
Still, as non-boxing a fight as that was, it achieved a purpose: Compared to a few spiritless fights in the past, this one was humorous, insane, wild, entertaining—a circus unlike anything Cebuanos had seen before.