Yesterday’s boxing fixture, Ukrainian V. Klitschko vs Nigerian Samuel Peter, brought us to O2 World again. Yes, O2 World is well on its way to becoming an outpost of American entertainment culture in Berlin, but so what? There’s plenty of run-down shitholes out there, such as last weekend’s lowlight, the “Picknick Club” on Dorotheenstrasse. Every now and then, it’s OK to tread the easy path, to become part of a bubblegum spectacle, instead of sipping your overpriced (for Berlin measures, mind you) beer next to the garbage containers on a bleak yard calling itself a “club”.
So how was the fight? Well… dull. That’s not Berlin’s fault, Berlin still loves you, but those two guys just circled each other, occasionally punched, and after 8 rounds the Nigerian threw in the towel after clearly trailing in the referees’ points. We’re not bloodthirsty here, but how about some passion, some excitement, some risk-taking on the part of the boxers? The whole thing, as so often in boxing, felt pre-ordained. Peter was lethargic from the start, and Klitschko, not even bothering to raise his fists in defensive posture because he was so much taller than his opponent, just kept him at a distance. No infights, no serious punch combinations – just 8 rounds of meddling and then the towel.
How different, then, was the real sporting highlight of the evening – Germany playing Russia in the World Cup qualifications! And that one, too, we saw at a legandary Berlin location: Paules’s Metal Eck on Simon-Dach-Strasse!
Paule’s Metal Eck is one of the places we love indeed. It’s genuine in a way that may not be to everybody’s taste – but they don’t care; it looks fierce but the people are most friendly; and the food & drink on sale are the down-to earth stuff you want when you’re up to getting properly drunk with your friends.
For Germany vs Russia, they had put up a big screen and switched off the stereo that normally thunders out Death, Black, Heavy, Speed, Crossover and any other sort of Metal known to man 24hrs a day. A friendly crowd of black-leathered Metal heads and neighborhood punters had gathered to see how Germany would do against the Russians who had been THE surprise team of this years’s Euro Cup.
What ensued was a most entertaining game that filled our eyes with tears of joy time and again. In the first half, Germany played their best match since – when? As the Metal heads cheered on, we saw Ballack, Podolski and Schweinsteiger play the most elegant football this side of Brazil. A couple of guys who had been shooting some Pool in the adjoining room put down their queues and sat down open-jawed as Podolski scored 1-0, Ballack 2-0, and attack after attack rolled towards the Russian goal, brilliant pass playing, excellent dribblings. Had it been not for the Russian goalie, Akinfeyev, the result could have been at 4-0 by halftime already. The second half was less brilliant, but still fast-paced, passionate, exciting football – maybe that was why the boxing left such a stale aftertaste eventually. The boxing was all show, no sports, while on the football pitch, 22 players had been tearing their hearts out to overpower their opponents, had employed every trick, every means available to them to come home victorious.
In the end, you just gotta admit that even in our Magical City, it’s not the venue that gives you a good time. No entertainment palace will turn a lame spectacle into a winner; while a great game, a show of excitement, will work beautifully even in the mosh pit.
Great night out in the big town it was nevertheless.