The crowd at MSG watching the Battle of the Badges sounded mostly in favor of the NYPD—no surprise given its size, but friends Sandra and Sonia came from New Rochelle and Westchester to see the Smoke Eaters. "We're rooting for the FDNY," Sonia said. "Even though my brother is a Lieutenant in the NYPD," Sandra added. So why not cheer for New York's Finest? "I used to date her brother, but then he dumped me. So now we root for the FDNY," Sonia explained with a laugh. "I'm not gonna give you my full name," Sandra said, noting that her brother has served 14 years in the NYPD. "If he found out he'd kill me."
That atmosphere of serious but friendly competition has accompanied the family affair that is the Battle of the Badges for the last 30 years. By the third round of the third fight, the crowd had shaken off the sleepy exhibition match and the theater at MSG was packed with fans cheering for their friends, family, and colleagues. Proceeds from the event went to the NYPD's Atlas Cops & Kids Boxing Gym in Brownsville, as well as the FDNY's partnership with Building Homes for Heroes, an organization dedicated to helping veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All service members train for the fights on their own time, and are coached by former FDNY and NYPD boxing champs. Perhaps the best bout we witnessed was between the evenly matched Todd "Zilla" Velten of Engine 16, Ladder 7 and Samuel "Corazon" Carrion of the 79th Precinct. Both were incredibly quick on their feet, landed solid, devastating blows, and had the judges inching closer to the ring. We thought ToddZilla had won in a squeaker but Carrion carried the match. Who needs Pacquiao-Márquez?
The FDNY leads the series 15-13-1, and had won three of the last four and came back to tie last year's match. We had to duck out of the match early, and neither press office knew of the victor. If you were there last night, let us know who won in the comments.