Today I shot the Andrei Arlovski open media workout at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood and watched Arlovski shadowbox, hit pads for three rounds, and pound the speed bag well enough to impress a boxer training next to him who couldn’t stop staring in amazement. The gym doesn’t close for the media. Reporters and photographers dodge swinging bags to get a glimpse of Freddie Roach wrapping Arlovski’s hands. It was already a warm day in LA, making it an even warmer day inside the Wild Card, but I feel comfortable inside its photo-plastered walls. There’s something unassuming and beautiful about this no-frills boxing gym and after watching so much 24/7, it was nice to finally see the inside of a place I’d once lived only a few minutes from.
Arlovski’s speed and movement are impressively displayed for the shooters and writers that show but the thought still lingers in my mind, what about his ground game? Even as Arlovski aggressively beats the speed bag at a neck-breaking pace and I’m getting showered in his flying sweat (yeah, it’s as gross as it sounds), I’m picturing Fedor’s submission game. I even hear other fighters in the gym whispering, “Won’t Fedor just take him down?”
Regardless, I do imagine it will be a good fight — tons better than Fedor vs Tim Sylvia. My mind wanders: this gym is so photogenic. I’d really like to spend all day in it, taking pictures and talking to fighters. Certainly, Arlovski looks sharp and ready to fight. There’s no doubt about that.
Afterward, I stop at the hair salon downstairs to speak to an old friend who happens to cut Manny Pacquiao’s hair, and sitting in the shop is boxer, Chica, who is fighting in February. A statuesque Japanese woman with a broad, bright smile — she cheerfully talks about Andrei training at the Wild Card, what a great coach Freddie Roach is, and asking me who I think will win. Andrei passes a few minutes later, and the girls in the shop all yell, “Andrei!!” as he walks by, all raising their arms to cheer and support him. Arlovski gives a subdued smile and wave and heads home. This place seems so rich with personality, history. I know the readers of this site generally hate boxing (though I think y’all hate the biz of boxing) but I doubt you’d say that once you stepped inside the Wild Card. It’s a boxing museum with up-and-comers fighting for a spot on the already filled walls.
In any case, here’s the photos I took, hope you like ’em.