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The Most Hugged Man In The Universe
By Tom Smario

Sharing a dressing room with Lou Duva recently at a Main Events show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas one comes quickly to a solid conclusion. Lou Duva is the most hugged man in the universe.

I like working fights in Las Vegas because they are professional and organized and that means I have more time to relax and observe. To sit and watch like a cat studying a bird feeder. Iíll tell you something. Everybody who saw this man could not resist the urge to put their arms around him. Some people you say hello to, some you shake their hand, but nobody had that reaction when they saw Lou. They wanted to dive into the ocean and be consumed. They hugged the man and I do mean everybody. Damn sure did. Put their arms around him and laughed and squeezed.

Boxing is a business, but itís family too. Sometimes itís functional and all the wack-oís, weird-oís and normal people, whoever they are, manage to get along and everybodyís happy. Good God, itís a wonderful thing. You cross paths at the weigh-ins, dressing rooms, lobbies and hallways that lead to the futures of noble men who are willing to risk their lives in the pursuit of their dreams or their bills. Whatever. They lay their ass on the line while everybody else watches. Sometimes itís so God damn dangerous itís both beautiful and repulsive. Lou Duva has been to thousands of these. Tonight he was working a card headlined by Angel Manfredy who was fighting Carlos Ramirez. Lou didnít have either one of them. Tonight he was lending his eyes and mind and presence to a Mexican named Jose Luis Lopez from Durango, Mexico.

I was working as cutman for a fighter named Mike Lucero from West Linn, Oregon. Mike is trained by ďSweet BabyĒ James Manning and managed by Mike ďMotormouthĒ Morton. Mike can fight. We didnít have any music in our dressing room. I tried whistling but it didnít help. I canít whistle like Marvin Gaye sings, Iíll tell you that! Hell no! I missed the music. People continue to file in and hug Lou. I wrap Luceroís hands. Lou talks to each one of them like they are the only person in the world and he knew them all of their life. Knew the names of their wives and children too. If there had been mothers in the room theyíd have wanted Lou to kiss their babies. I swear to god, this was RESPECT.

Jose Luis Lopez started hitting the pads with his trainer. His rythm and balance was there and his shots rang out a loud song. I watched him and couldnít help but think he had a great advantage over his opponent, David Lewter, simply because having Lou Duva in the corner is like having Vince Lombardi on the sideline. Lopez did a job on Lewter and won. It wasnít easy but he did it. Mike Lucero fought his heart out against fantastic prospect Juan Diaz from Houston, Texas, but lost a decision. He went toe to toe with Juan the entire fight which went the distance. He is the only one to do that. When we got back to the dressing room Mike was disappointed and Lou, gracious as ever, come over to Mike and complimented him. It meant a lot to Mike. This was the gift of this man, I thought. To make people feel good about themselves.

By the way, Angel Manfredy won that night, as did Roger Vargas, Daniel Judah and Anthony Hanshaw. They were all good. But Juan Diaz, yes, watch out! Heís something special.

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