To be honest, when it was first suggested that I write about boxing in Las Vegas, I was a little unsure about how to approach it. I have been to many boxing matches throughout the years and, for the most part, have always believed that if you appreciate the aspects of boxing which makes you a fan to begin with, it really doesn't matter how big the event is, or if you're in Las Vegas or anywhere else.
When it comes right down to it, you have two combatants who have studied the science of boxing and trained for success. They have prepared their bodies, minds and resolve to meet the challenge of the other, and everything that they have is about to be exposed for the world to see.
Everything is on the line, their hopes, their egos, their fear of failure and their dreams of glory. It's all there to be lost or gained, and once the bell rings, there is nowhere to hide from the coming judgment. Not from the world, and more importantly, not from themselves.
Before the match starts and the fighters make their way to the ring, you can feel the anticipation and the energy build. They're back there, preparing, and we are about to be entertained with some of the purest individual competition that exists for public display. There is no other event like it. Not for me.
Yet, while you don't need to be in Las Vegas to appreciate what that is all about, when asked, I do admit that it's a privilege to be a boxing fan in this city. So what does Las Vegas deliver that has made it the current Mecca of Boxing? What is it that makes the city so special?
Put simply, it is the stage, and there are few like it in the world today. It is not only having the opportunity to put your skills on display for the entire world, or the promise of a huge payday, but it represents the achievement and recognition of having made it. For many of them, this is the boxer's ultimate achievement in the way it is for athletes of other sports to perform in the World Series or the Super Bowl.
As a result, Las Vegas is able to generate the attention and atmosphere that makes these events more spectacular than anywhere else. As such, it not only becomes special to the boxers who have finally made it here, or to their fans who come to see them, but to the fans within the city who are fortunate enough to be witness to boxing best on its brightest stage.
With all the talk these days about the decline of boxing, I am often forced to smirk to myself. While I'm sure there is truth in it, in Las Vegas it is often difficult to get a sense of it. As I write this, the city has been buzzing over its next major event, the undefeated Ricky Hatton vs. Jose Luis Castillo, two of the world's best at 140 looking to prove themselves and justify an even bigger match with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
As the week continues and the general boxing fans, the fighter's diehard faithful, the press and, of course, the celebrities converge on the city from all directions, the interest will build and the event will become larger than life. If it lives up to its expectations, for many who attend and participate, it will be something to be remembered as just as much for its history as for its entertainment.
Next, only a month away, we move on to Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. At stake will be their legacy as the dominant fighter of their generation and virtually undeniable Hall of Fame status.
And so it continues as Las Vegas is able to put together one mega-event after another, all the while keeping the fans, and with them the best boxers in the world, interested in coming back for more.
Ultimately, this is not only where the very best meet, this is where the debates are settled and history is made. This is the Mecca of Boxing. Las Vegas, Nevada.