Mitt Romney Goes To The Fights
The post-campaign Mitt Romney is living an interesting life:
For sheer happy weirdness, nothing quite rivals the surreal encounters that occur at a major boxing match. Saturday night, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, as Manny Pacquiao readied himself in a dressing room for his fourth mega-fight with legendary Mexican foe Juan Manuel Marquez, Mitt Romney appeared. A guest of the Nevada Athletic Commission, Romney had dropped by the dressing room to wish the Filipino superstar good luck.
A seated Pacquiao was having his hands taped, in preparation for putting on his boxing gloves. An aide casually introduced him to Romney, who expanded on the introduction: “Hi, Manny. I ran for president and lost.”
The dressing room “exploded in laughter,” said longtime Pacquiao publicist, Fred Sternburg, in an e-mail this morning.
Pacquiao replied that it was nice to meet Romney, Sternburg added.
For the non-boxing fan, it is often a shock to discover a fighter willing to meet a stranger shortly before stepping into the ring. Politicians, for instance, typically wall themselves off from the world in the final hours of preparation before critical debates or convention speeches. But great boxers are generally accustomed to granting audiences in the last hours before a fight; it is one of those gladiator rituals that bespeaks a fighter’s composure and confidence. A fighter’s dressing room regularly serves as the American intersection between celebrity, sports and politics.
Romney chatted a little more before wishing Pacquiao a good night. Their brief meeting apparently ended without any discussion about their shared passion — politics — or Pacquiao’s work as a Filipino congressman. Romney left and joined his wife, Ann, in the sold-out arena, where their arrival elicited neither roars or boos but simply a few handshakes from passerbys. They took their seats near ringside and close to Pacquiao’s corner, seated in the proximity of former champions Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard, and basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Pacquino ended up being knocked out in the 6th round.
Frankly, of all the places I thought Mitt Romney might be on a Saturday night, a boxing match in Vegas wasn’t even close to being on the list.