There’s something beautifully barbaric about boxing that people often struggle to understand. When we break boxing down to the bare fundamentals, it’s two people standing within a small enclosed area, trying to punch each other as hard as they can, as often as they can for a specified time until, either: one person can no longer stand or they fight to a standstill and allow third parties decide who the better combatant is.
Last Saturday I watched one of the most exciting fighters of recent times get absolutely flattened by (credit where it is due) a great left hook however, the man in question should have retired a long time ago. This got me thinking about a subject which has plagued the sport by journalists, analysts etc for a long time – why do people love the sport to the extent that they simply cannot walk away?
Michael Katsidas has been reported to have financial issues which have led to him selling some of his boxing items on eBay which may explain his reasoning for being in the ring last weekend however, for every Michael Katsidis there is a Ricky Hatton or a Roy Jones Junior who still have the passion for the sport. The belief that they still have that one great fight left. They don’t need money but fight because they love it; no matter how disillusioned they seem to an outsider looking in.
The aforementioned fighters used as an example have been at the highest of the boxing echelons, multiple times, at multiple weights- world champions. Sitting pretty until BOOM – the fall from grace happens in a matter of seconds. One punch is all it takes for a fighter to go from being ‘the man’ to being written off.
There is something special about winning a bout that is difficult to explain. The emotions you feel are indescribable however, imagine amplifying that feeling by an infinite amount and winning a world title fight, knowing that you are the best in your chosen profession in your weight category, and then imagine 36 minutes (or less) later that’s taken away from you.
The desire and determination to get back to the top, to get those nights back when the whole boxing world stops to sit up and pay attention when you fight, must surely cloud a fighters judgement and their acceptance that maybe they’re not as good as they once were… Or maybe they do accept it, maybe the buzz of being under those lights is just an addiction that they can’t kick regardless of the outcome.