The Lure of the Ring

Former champ Frank Otero needs to sell real estate to make a living. But he needs boxing to live.

Sixth round. Williams hits Rodriguez with a left uppercut to the liver, "like a knife slicing through butter," Otero would say later, and he falls to the canvas. Rodriguez gets up, stunned, but the referee stops the fight.

In the final two matches, Sandtanner Lewis knocks out William Negr centsn of Puerto Rico in the first round, and Patrick Simeon, whose fight went from first to last on the card, has little trouble with Jose Delgado A also a first-round knockout. An excellent night for local talent; less positive for Latinophiles, but Telemundo is pleased with the quality of the matches and the relative lack of glitches. For Otero the event has come together exceptionally well, and when he has a few seconds to think, he is proud. But he still doesn't know whether it was successful enough to convince him it's safe to leave real estate.

As the spectators move out of the auditorium and merge with the mass of Ocean Drive humanity, the fighters materialize one by one outside the box office. Behind the closed door, Walter Alvarez sits at a desk and counts out their pay. Juan Arroyo gets about $1500, Arthur Clark about $1200. Not a bad night: 480 paying customers, a capacity crowd. After spending roughly $35,000 to put the thing on, the organizers have made a few thousand dollars in profit. The important thing, according to Alvarez, is they didn't lose money. "Right now our shows aren't making any money," he says. "All I'm trying to do is keep them going, build our audience, build our fighters, get some interest back, and then we'll start thinking about making money."

On Monday Frank Otero goes back to his office A a trailer in Royal Oaks A to face a backlog of phone calls and paperwork. Boring? After working like crazy to put together the Explosion on the Ocean, living moment after moment in suspense or panic or both, he finds himself reluctant to abandon real estate. "I could do it, but I'm really not sure if I want to," he muses, adding with a smile, "I don't know if I want to do what Tommy Torino is doing, go to the gym every day and put on dark glasses."

On the other hand, the success of the evening has pumped into his blood more of whatever it is about boxing that addicts him. He's going to branch out, book fighters into places such as Detroit and Orlando. Like Alvarez, Otero believes it's just a matter of time before their work begins paying off in a big way. "Maybe I can go into boxing full-time by our next program," he says.

For now he can collect a few real estate commissions. And finally he has time to visit Elvis Yero, still recuperating at Jackson. Otero regrets not checking earlier on the kid, to whom he has tried to be a mentor. He thinks Yero's professional boxing days must surely be over with this latest shooting, but he figures he'll be supportive. No sense getting him upset when he's still in the hospital.

Yero is just concluding a spirited phone conversation when Frank and Nancy Otero arrive at his semiprivate room. "Gimme a call," Yero says, rolling his head around to look at his visitors. "Let's rap." Yero is lying on his back in bed wearing only light blue hospital pants, from which thin, pale ankles protrude. A white plastic tube runs from a thicket of bandages on his right side into a gurgling drainage machine at the foot of the bed. A small round wound by his left collarbone marks the spot, he says, where his five or six attackers tried to stab him. A long straight scar with sutures still visible runs down the middle of his abdomen.

Yet Yero seems full of energy, not cowed or sobered or changed by his near death. He's going to take it easy, he says, give himself six months before he gets back to boxing. He had called Otero a week before the Explosion on the Ocean and asked if there was any way he could get on the card. "Come down to the gym tomorrow and I'll see what I can do," Otero had told him, knowing Yero wasn't in shape but wanting to get him back into training. Yero didn't show up that Saturday; the next morning he was shot.

"How many fights have you gotten into in the last six months?" Otero asks him.

"None!" Yero protests innocently as his eyes open wide under thick brows.
Frank and Nancy both laugh. "A little angel," Nancy says, looking to the heavens.

"You don't know who shot you?"
"I wouldn't recognize 'em."
Otero doesn't believe this; he's afraid Yero will go after his attackers when he's able. "I'll tell you what you should do, Elvis," he says. "When you get out, get you a little job and buy you a little car so you don't have to be waiting around at bus stops."

Yero nods. Yeah. He's got it all planned. In six weeks, his doctors told him, he'll be able to run. No permanent damage to his lung or his liver. By the end of the year, he'll be fighting. "Look, my life has been delayed. I want to get myself back together physically," Yero insists, raising his head off the pillows and voicing what Otero has heard a hundred times A indeed repeating what Otero himself has probably said more than once. "My character won't allow me to end my boxing career like this.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Miami Concert Tickets