There was a time in boxing when quitting was simply not an option – it wasn’t considered and it didn’t happen. Today, it seems that turning your back on a fight, even if the possibility of victory still exists, is hardly frowned upon and has suddenly become the norm.
There are cases where a fighter is simply overmatched in class and getting beaten from pillar to post and the corner will do the right thing to protect their fighter. A corner stepping up to stop a fight or throw in the towel still has a sense of nobility to it. The results of recent weeks – most notable this past Friday – are downright shameful.
Two weeks ago in Manchester, England, Ricky Hatton (39-0-0, 29 KOs) was bullying Kostya Tszyu around the ring for most of 11 rounds. Tszyu (31-2-0, 25 KOs) was regarded by most as one the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and came into the fight as a -240 betting favorite. All that aside, Hatton used his edge in strength to take the fight to Tszyu and wear him down throughout the fight.
Before the start of the last round and with the “Hit Man” Hatton ahead on all three scorecards, King Kostya sat on his stool to signal the end of the fight. Reports have circulated that Tszyu had suffered a broken rib, or two, and injured his jaw. He was “the man” as far as most were concerned, but in the wee hours two weeks ago in England, he quit.
Last weekend Mike Tyson (50-6-0, 44 KOs) followed Tszyu by falling to his fanny as the sixth round came to and end and stayed on his butt for good. Tyson was a huge favorite to win that fight (opening around -800 but closing closer to -600 as bettors weren’t buying what Mike was selling) and he was fighting a handpicked opponent. The fight with McBride had been in the works for a long time, but it had always evolved around “The Clones Colossus”.
Clearly, McBride (33-4-1, 28 KOs) was the opponent that Tyson’s handlers and promoters wanted – he brought a decent record, was big, and had suffered all four of his defeats by knockout. Perfect for Mike. Unfortunately, Tyson couldn’t connect before he ran out of gas – so he quit. Despite the fact that McBride was prone to being knocked out and that one big shot from mighty Mike was all that was needed to end the fight, he ended it on his own.
Just days ago on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights it got worse.
Super featherweight Carlos Navarro (26-4-1, 21 KOs) was a big favorite to knockoff “the other Pacquiao,” Manny’s brother Bobby. A solid -400 choice to emerge victorious, Navarro looked solid early on as Pacquiao was aggressive in pursuit, but Navarro demonstrated his superior technical skills in catching his aggressor coming in. After Pacquiao (25-11-3, 11 KOs) solved his problem with footing (Pacquiao was literally sliding around the ring in the opening round, apparently due to new shoes) he began to target the abdomen and liver of Navarro with abandon.
While Navarro came into the bout with the bigger punch, Pacquiao showed a bigger heart. Fighting much like his brother on this night, the 11-time loser took everything his southpaw opponent could muster, and just kept on coming. In the sixth a perfect uppercut to the midsection shook Navarro and he stepped back, before he dropped to a knee to regain his composure and momentarily stop brother Bobby. Earlier Pacquiao had been warned of venturing south of the border with his body shots and referee John Schorle somehow ruled this knockdown a low blow. Clearly (as replays supported) the shot was legal, as it landed inches below the chest, but Schorle didn’t see it that way – or more likely he just didn’t see it at all. Somehow Pacquiao lost a point for the knockdown.
Undeterred, the new WBC Continental America’s super featherweight champion went back to the body and dropped Navarro again. Then he hit him when he was down. Schorle was correct in ruling that Pacquiao hit Navarro late, but Navarro didn’t want anything to do with that. He pleaded with Schorle to start counting so he could pack up and leave. Schorle, thinking Navarro misunderstood, told the fighter again that he had been hit when he was down and could take his time. Navarro pounded his fists on the canvas like a child not getting his way. He must’ve had a hot date waiting in the parking lot because Navarro wanted to be counted out – he deserved it damn it! Face bruised and body beaten, Navarro unwillingly found his feet, had his mouthpiece put in, and when on looking for another way to get gone.
Pacquiao again obliged and after another body shot Carlos Navarro officially became a “quitter.” As Schorle began to count to ten, Navarro remained on the canvas and actually counted along with the ref until reaching a count of ten. A fighter actually counting himself out, bizarre. “Finally” was the expression on Navarro’s face, finally he had got out of the fight. Pacquiao had lost 11 fights including 6 losses by knockout while Navarro had knocked out the opposition in 21 of his 26 prior victories. It didn’t matter, as Navarro simply embarrassed himself.
Boxing is a unique sport with an interesting cast of characters.
Unfortunately some of the cast is without much character.