You can imagine it in black and white: a newsreel of the big fight. The spotlights. The tuxedos and limos. Bogey, Bacall, DiMaggio, Monroe. It was the golden age, when boxers were big-time celebs and celebs were big into boxing. Now fast-forward about 40 years. Some things have changed for the worse, as washed-up celebrities duke it out for beer money. But some good things have come out of the past twoscore years, like a more global reach for real championship boxing. Oh, and ladies boxing. Here in Houston, a world-class championship boxing match is going down at H-Town's Arena Theatre. The main event is the fight for the World Boxing Association Fedcentro welterweight title, between Nurhan Suleyman (12 wins-0 losses, 5 knockouts) and Diego Castillo (21-2, 18). Also, Galveston's Felix Cora (12 wins-0 losses-2 draws, 6 knockouts) faces Jason Waller (26-22-3, 19). But wait, there'll be women boxing, too, and not Tonya Harding and Paula Jones. Light heavyweight champ Valerie "The Wolfe" Mahfood (14-7, 8) takes on No. 7 middleweight Yolanda Swindell (3-0) of Houston. Mahfood is a seasoned, tough vet who, in 2002, faced the boxer that Swindell -- and many other women boxers -- are gunning for: the indomitable Laila Ali, whose own indomitable dad was in some of those newsreels. 7 p.m. Thursday, January 15. 7326 Southwest Freeway. For information, call 713-988-1020 or visit www.vertexboxing.com. $25 to $115. -- Eric Norvell
Perhaps you've always wanted to run the Houston Marathon, but the thought of trudging along for 26 miles is just too damn daunting. Why not give the half-marathon a go? You'll still get one hell of a workout on the 13.1-mile course, and you're less likely to blow out your sneaks (and your knees) in the process. There's plenty of prize money on the line, so try not to get too distracted as you jog past some of H-town's historic neighborhoods. And we suggest you bring your own stopwatch: The half-marathon is sponsored by Halliburton International, and its accountants apparently aren't very good at keeping track of numbers. 7 a.m. Sunday, January 18. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. To register, call 713-957-3453 or visit www.hphoustonmarathon.com. Marathon: $100; half-marathon: $75. -- Keith Plocek
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