Friday, November 1, 2019

Blair Cobbs: Boxing is his Sanctuary

By Luis A. Cortes III

Saturday night’s mega fight card live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas is indeed being headlined by the historic showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev.  While this matchup between the reigning middleweight king and the current WBO light heavyweight champion has brought members of the boxing media to Sin City from all over the country, Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (12-0-1) (8 KO’s) is aware that this is his moment to establish himself, make believers out of everyone watching, and prove he is the future of boxing. Tomorrow night, Cobbs will meet Carlos Ortiz (11-4) (11 KO's) in a 10-round fight for the NABF welterweight title. 

This is the type of opportunity (being in the opening fight of the main portion of the televised card) that Cobbs has been working towards as a professional fighter for the past six years.  Not only will a victory for Cobbs announce his presence to the sport, as he makes the transition from welterweight prospect to championship contender (this fight will be for the vacant NABF title), it’s the first step that he needs to take in trying to do what all fighters crave to ultimately do... Become a bankable transcendent star.

As he stands inside of the MGM Casino with his team at his side just outside of a casino bar moments after finishing an open workout for fans and media, this version of Blair Cobbs is a much more subdue man than the one who was just entertaining the crowd and shouting that he “is the baddest, most exciting man in boxing today.”

With a frenzy taking place and fans screaming for free promotional gifts as other undercard fighters shadow boxed and skipped ropes to help promote Saturday night's event, Team Cobbs arrived for their turn. The polite, soft spoken, and thoughtful twenty-nine-year-old flipped a switch as he stepped through the ropes.  By the time his feet landed inside of the ring he had transformed into the “The Flair,” and started shouting into the cameras and towards the fans.  Instantly understanding and showing the world that inside of the ring is not only his sanctuary, but also his stage.

Cobbs even showed off one of his unique training techniques to the crowd.  After spinning around in a circle to off-set his balance, Cobb was tossed three balls that he started to juggle.  The thought process being that he can train his body and mind to successfully juggle three balls while dizzy.  This form of training will lead to an improved ability to fight and maintain coordination if he is ever hurt and dazed from a punch.  Once his time inside of the ring ended, Cobbs left the ring and the public workout area.  Minutes later, he had internally flipped the switch back off and was once again, Blair.

The road for Cobbs arrival to fight week has been nothing but unorthodox, even for the often-crazy unpredictable world of boxing.  His backstory and road to the sport is something the best screenwriters and producers in Hollywood couldn’t even come up with.  “There are many chapters that explain my life.  I was born in Philadelphia and lived in Beverly Hills where I went to high school.  Another chapter was having to move with my father and sister to Guadalarja, Mexico.  That’s where I learned to box.  Boxing and that ring became my sanctuary,” stated Cobbs.

It was back in 2004 that Cobbs and his sister were suddenly moved to Mexico by their father.  Eugene Cobbs was a prime target of the FBI who were searching for him in connection with an air plane crash in West Virginia.  Eugene had allegedly crashed a private plane and fled the scene because inside of the plane was 525 pounds of cocaine.  With the U.S. Marshals closing in on him and his family, Mexico became home for the Cobbs family.

Once in Mexico, Cobbs tried his best to adapt to his new surroundings by picking up the language, which he speaks fluently.  He wandered into a boxing gym and took to the sport like a fish to water.  Cobbs would keep a low profile to keep his family together everywhere except for inside of the gym.  “I was fighting like every weekend and it was great.  I was in some real knockdown drag out fights,” recalled Cobbs.  In 2007, Eugene was captured and Blair was set free as he was able to return to his home country.  He found himself back in Philadelphia after a stint in New York, but with no money and no prospects for financial gain.  Cobbs once again found sanctuary behind the walls of a boxing gym.

“I was unprepared for the streets of Philadelphia.  I was all over the city, West, North, Germantown.  Surviving those city streets is hard.”  Through boxing Cobbs was able to make his name in the city in the same fashion that he did while fighting and trying to survive in Mexico.  After turning professional in 2013 he found some success in and out of the boxing ring.  Cobbs still had no financial stability but was training locals at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym and using whatever money he could put together to eat properly and train.  While living out of his car, he finally received a break when he was noticed by former associates of Bernard Hopkins.

Once again, Cobbs decided that it would be best to try and establish himself in a new environment to continue his path in boxing, so he moved to Las Vegas.  This move occurred because, despite knowing associates of a legend, he couldn’t get a fight on the grounds that no one wanted to face him.  His career was at a turning point, thus the move out west.  Former WBA bantamweight champion Clarence “Bones” Adams was serving time and met Cobbs' cousin.  They spoke about Blair and Adams agreed to meet with the young talent upon his release.

They immediately connected not just through boxing, but through their shared experiences and similar backgrounds.  Adams was so convinced that Cobbs was a special talent that he got Brandon Woods, his former trainer, to return to Las Vegas to help with training and Cobbs' development.  Finally having a steady home in Las Vegas and a stable team to support his growth as a fighter and man, Cobbs won several fights in a row. He reconnected with the former associate of Bernard Hopkins in Vegas, and after a few more wins, signed a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions.

With boxing being Blair Cobbs' sanctuary in Mexico, New York, Philadelphia, back to Mexico wining professional fights, and now in Las Vegas, at 29, Cobbs needs to make a splash before his physical prime runs its course.  After all, father time waits for no man, not even the Flair.  He is aware of this and along with his back story, his ability to speak fluent Spanish (which opens him up to the Latino market), his fan friendly fighting style, and his willingness to interact with fans, Cobbs has finally reached the moment for his career to start taking off towards bigger fights, which also means bigger pay days.  The first step for Cobbs to take towards his ultimate goals starts tomorrow night when he steps through the ropes and into the ring, which after all, is the place he also calls his “sanctuary."

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