It's always good to see Michael Buffer. He brings an air of detached sophistication to any boxing event. Until he speaks, anyway. Then it is madness.
Buffer is announcing the pay-per-view action at tonight's Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. We're in the sixth round of the Breidis Prescott-Mike Alvarado IBF Latino Junior Welterweight championship bout, two fights and an eternity from the main event.
About Buffer: He's been in the fight game for 31 years and is 67 years old. Remarkable. He likes old cars and told me in Dallas in March 2010 that he either owns or once owned a 1932 Ford Coupe -- a little Deuce Coupe -- with a rumble seat. He also had the phrase "let's get ready to rumble" trademarked nearly 20 years ago.
He makes you want to fight. That's what Sugar Ray Leonard once said of Buffer. That's great because this arena is filling with about 16,000 fight fans who are eager to see Pacquiao and Marquez go at it a third time. So far, the celebs in the audience include Charles Barkley and Mike Tyson. And a guy wearing a silver suit who looks like Joe Pesci in "Casino."
Check back soon.
Updated at 7:32 p.m.: Media at ringside keep turning around during the Prescott-Alvarado bout, which just ended the eighth round, looking for a woman who has been shrieking "Mike! Mike!" the entire fight. She is either a family member, or maybe she is shouting "Mic! Mic!" in a quest for increased vocal modulation.
Updated at 7:39 p.m.: Winner by TKO at 1:53 of the 10th round is Mr. Alvarado, who has beaten the man known by the entire arena as, "Mike! Mike!" There is relative silence after a very competitive and entertaining 10-rounder.
Updated at 8:08 p.m.: Report from our Men's Room Bureau turns up sightings of former New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns linebacker Willie McGinest (outside) and Steve Buscemi (inside). McGinest is a giant of a man, and Buscemi ... not so much. But Buscemi is more readily recognized.
Updated at 8:18 p.m.: Other notables, Las Vegas edition, in the arena include Dr. Tony Alamo and Michael Greco, former Palms entertainment director and current Chateau Nightclub & Gardens vice president. Alamo, a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission, is a familiar figure at Vegas fights. He's also a devout "Star Trek" fan (a "Trekker" or "Trekkie"; take your pick) who was inspired to enter medicine in part by watching Dr. Bones McCoy treat universal life forms on the original TV series. And, hey, we're in the eighth round of the Joel Casamayor-Timothy Bradley WBO Junior Welterweight title bout.
Updated at 8:25 p.m.: After their man takes a knee from a shot to the body at 2:59 of the eighth round, Casamayor's corner throws in the troll. I mean, towel. But a troll would have been just as effective. Meanwhile, my man the Buff-a-Rator announces that Evander Holyfield is in the audience. That means Tyson and Holyfield are both here. I covered the bite-night fight in 1997, and, I'll tell you, that was some unanticipated insanity. But a great night, all in all -- once we were all able to escape MGM Grand.
Other celebs name-checked by Buffer: Star Jones, Julio Cesar Chavez, Roy Jones Jr., Reggie Miller and Magic Johnson. David Hasselhoff was supposed to be in town tonight but abruptly dropped out of his shows at Orleans Arena next weekend. Hoff should be here, if only because I was supposed to write a cover story about him for the upcoming issue of Las Vegas Weekly.
Updated at 8:36 p.m.: Well-crafted tribute to the late Joe Frazier marred by idiots shouting "Smokin' Joe!" and "Let's get ready to rumble" during the 10-bell moment of silence. Getting this crowd to quiet down for anything, including the national anthems of the Philippines, Mexico and the U.S., is about as likely as a rematch between Tyson and Holyfield.
Updated at 8:50 p.m.: It's not often you see MGM Grand Garden Arena totally filled, but tonight is one of those nights. Hardly any unoccupied seats. Lengthy fighter introductions underway now. There is a general chant of sorts, accompanied by the Who's "We Won't Get Fooled Again," but it's all just a din at this point. While we're at it, God bless the Who, yes?
Updated at 8:55 p.m.: As Pacquiao enters the ring, Survivor vocalist David Bickler sings "Eye of the Tiger," and the crowd goes nuts even though Bickler's voice is not hitting the high notes. Bickler also is known for singing in Bud Lite commercials. Buffer just shouted the rumble thing, so it is time to get it on, and baby it is loud in this place.
Updated at 9:02 p.m.: Longtime fight judge and current Ring magazine writer Chuck Giampa once told me the best way to score a fight was to break down each round by one-minute increments. Not possible when you're trying to figure out if that blonde in the second row is actually Paris Hilton. It is not. At the end of the second round, this is a very close, action-filled bout. Both guys are still getting warmed up, not quite ready to let their hands fly. A lot of flurries and covering. Marquez had slammed at Pacquiao's body pretty effectively. Also, Dave Chappelle and Jeremy Piven are here.
Updated at 9:07 p.m.: Pacquiao is in supreme physical condition and seems impervious to pain. That makes Marquez's task a little more challenging. Pacquiao seemed to hit after the bell ending Round 3. Crowd seems split evenly, chanting for both fighters as they enter Round 4.
Updated at 9:15 p.m.: What can you say when four rounds could go either way? Pacquiao three rounds to one for me. Also, my colleague Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports says Tyson was supposed to rung the 10 bells to honor Frazier but, without explanation, did not.
Updated at 9:20 p.m.: A right hand by Marquez sprayed sweat from Pacquiao, and a subsequent combination sent the crowd into a tizzy. Very close and heated battle. I've got Pacquiao up by one point entering the sixth round, if I were scoring. But here I am, instead, at a title fight.
Updated at 9:22 p.m.: Puffiness on the faces of both fighters. Marquez is catching Pacquiao with that right. This is so close. I have it even after six now. On the celeb front, count Buscemi's "Boardwalk Empire" cast mates Tim Van Patten and Christopher McDonald in this rapt and rowdy crowd.
Updated at 9:25 p.m.: Marquez devotees sing "Cielito Lindo" as Round 6 starts, which takes some of us back to our high school Spanish classes. Rights to the head and left hooks to the body are working for Marquez. Pacquiao is still busy as heck, but I've not seen him get hit like this, ever. Marquez up by one point, one round, here as Round 8 gets going.
Updated at 9:30 p.m.: If this goes to a decision, and there are no knockdowns, it will be controversial. So competitive. I'll give Round 8 to Pacquiao, which would make it even at 76-76. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is likely taking notes right now.
Updated at 9:30 p.m.: Stephen Moyer of "True Blood" is here.
Updated at 9:32 p.m.: For lack of a better term, Pacquiao looked pissed off in Round 9. He went after Marquez, big time, in the last minute, seeming to catch him with a couple of hammering right hands, but Marquez ducked, covered, and, as the round ended, hit Pacquiao low. Pacquiao wins that round for an 86-85 margin on my highly unofficial and even infantile scorecard.
Updated at 9:36 p.m.: Hate to put this out there, but we could be looking at another draw. Pacquiao looks frustrated, missing a lot of punches. I'll give 10 to Marquez, which makes it 95-95. Pacquiao is bleeding from the mouth and, it seems, right eye.
Updated at 9:40 p.m.: A murmur in the crowd as Round 11 ends. Give it to Marquez, who backed up Pacquiao late in the round with another right. Whew. Anybody's fight entering the 12th.
Updated at 9:46 p.m.: A Marquez torrent of punches ends Round 12, and Marquez leaps as if the decision has been rendered. Arms up! Pacquiao walks to his corner. Held up by his team, there is a chorus of boos. I've got Marquez winning it 115-114. But it could go to Pacquiao, or we could easily have another draw. Extremely tense at MGM Grand, and this is the best boxing has to offer today. Incredible event.
Updated at 10 p.m.: Scores: Robert Hoyle has it 114-114, Dave Moretti 115-113 for Pacquiao, Glenn Trowbridge has it -- wow -- 116-112 for Pacquiao. I can't see how either one of these guys won by four rounds. Crowd's boos drowning out the post-fight interview with Pacquiao, whose face is showing a lot of wear and tear. We'll see if he'll make his little post-fight concert at House of Blues later. Marquez sure did a number on his head and body tonight. But what a fight. A classic.
Updated at 10:20 p.m.: Most of the media members at ringside had Marquez winning narrowly. At least, those in my jurisdiction -- the Row H Jurisdiction -- had it that way. At the post-fight news conference, Top Rank founder Bob Arum says, ""I want these guys to have one fight with a definitive ending. Maybe next time."
Updated at 10:26 p.m.: Official announcement from Arum is the attendance is 16,368. Sold out, totally.
Updated at 10:33 p.m.: Don't know what the question was, but Arum fires out, "It was a great night for boxing! I don't want to hear any (B.S.) negativity from you or anyone else!" He says he'll put on another fight between the two "if the fighters want to do it."
Updated at 10:45 p.m.: Through an interpreter, Marquez says, "I am happy about my performance tonight. Honestly, I don't know what I need to do to change the minds of the judges." Also thanks the crowd, which was heavily Mexican. "We not only beat him in the ring, we beat him in the crowd." Says he felt he won this bout "more clearly" than the other two. These guys have fought 36 rounds and proven, mostly, that Marquez gives Pacquiao fits.
Updated at 11:01 p.m.: Inevitably, Marquez is asked to compare Pacquiao and Mayweather. He says, "Commercially speaking, it would be a huge fight. The style of Mayweather would be very complicated for Pacquiao." He ends with, "For anybody who thought I was going to be knocked out, this was a robbery. Now I'm going to enjoy time with my family."
Updated at 11:30 p.m.: Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach says "the fight was there for Marquez," but he chose to remain a counter-puncher instead of pressing the fight. Close rounds go to the aggressor. Pacquiao is long overdue to address the media.
Updated 11:55 p.m.: Pacquiao answers three questions. None are about the possibility of fighting Mayweather. He did say it's hard to fight Marquez because "he always backs off and is waiting for me to create action, and it's not easy to create action when he's waiting to take a good shot. I am careful with him because he is a good counter-puncher. It's not easy to fight him."
So, now, I suppose, it's a showtime of another sort. House of Blues beckons.