Faneuil Hall is a small meeting room with a really big painting ("Webster's Reply To Hayne"), which produces a telescopic effect -- this makes it a favorite with underdogs of all stripes. The Republican candidate for Governor, Charlie Baker, is running a TV ad presently that shows him lecturing from this stage, as shot from toe-level, which feels a bit heavy handed. And the other day the cradle of liberty was rented by DANA WHITE, who left town many years ago throwing punches, and has returned a kingmaker. Baker is merely a contender; but White fought Massachusetts for the right to have the UFC sanctioned here, and he won. White, no stranger to Boston scraps, gave us a tour of his brawling days in Southie for this week's paper. And on Wednesday he appeared, triumphant in a gray Red Sox t-shirt, to introduce his fighters (including Boston-based star Kenny Florian) to the patriots and media lining Quincy Market. (The main event, UFC 118, is tomorrow night at the Garden; a huge UFC fan expo complete with some combat demos kicks off today at the Hynes Convention Center.)
The pre-fight hype has been centering on JAMES TONEY, the noted pugilist who has become the first boxer to sign a contract to fight in the UFC. Nobody believes Toney has a prayer against veteran MMA brawler Randy Couture. White managed to back off his previous claims that the fight would be a "freakshow," without exactly showing much confidence in Toney's chances. In a video that played before the fighters took the stage, Toney's interview segments were subtitled -- even though he's speaking English. I had no trouble understanding him, and whatever comes of tomorrow night's fight, the boxer has already proven himself one of the UFC's most entertaining characters. For completists, we're uploading the full-length audio of Wednesday's press conference below.
PODCAST: UFC 118 Press Conference: James Toney, Randy Couture, BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar, Ken Florian, Gray Maynard, and Dana White (mp3)