Getting Hit in the Face

When is enough enough? Or rather, when it is too much?

As a fan of boxing, we all love the wars. Gatti-Ward, Bowe-Holyfield, Corrales-Castillo, and so many others. We want to see fighters give and take. To show what we consider courage, and if they are going to go down, we want to see them do so on their shield.

That’s the nature of the beast and no one needs to apologize for it. Not a fighter, nor a fan. There are thousands of other interests and pursuits one could take up should they be squeamish.

I do however get troubled with how quick some are to label a fighter as a “punk” or a “coward” when they come to the conclusion they simply can’t take any more punishment. I’m not talking about a fighter like Mike Alvarado, who ruined his warrior reputation just after the New Year by showing up woefully unprepared for his third fight with Brandon Rios. Alvarado deserved the boos he received from the crowd in attendance due to his lack of professionalism.

Boxers who don’t take their craft seriously and have to quit on their stool because they didn’t put in the time for training, were out too late the week of the fight, or simply just don’t want to be there are in another category.

What I’m thinking of is a guy like Willie Monroe Jr. and his fight in May against Gennady Golovkin. Going into the bout, no one gave Monroe a chance against the wrecking ball known as GGG. After a fairly ho-hum first round, the disparity between the two fighters became clear, with Golovkin hurting and knocking Monroe down twice in the 2nd. Monroe somehow survived the 3rd and showed enormous resolve by not only making the 4th round competitive, but quite possibly winning it. That effort was soon proven to be just a minor hiccup as Golovkin battered Monroe in the 5th and settled matters in the 6th by sending Monroe to the canvas for a 3rd and final time. Monroe beat the count, but decided he could not continue and the fight was over.

As soon as Monroe accepted his fate, Twitter lit up with claims he had “no heart.” A position quite dubious considering Monroe had already pulled himself off the canvas twice before to take up what most considered a hopeless cause against the vaunted Golovkin. Anyone watching the fight could tell you the only thing that was going to happen over the rest of it was pain. Not Golovkin’s either.

If they had fought 200 more rounds, Monroe was never going to take the lead or put GGG on his back. The fight was not winnable for Monroe. The only question that remained was when would it end and how bad would it be for him when it did.

So Monroe chose discretion. Who knows what goes through a fighter’s mind when they are hurt? Unless we’ve stood in a ring and taken blows from another, how can we truly understand what it’s like to lose confidence, to feel fear, to go dizzy and find your legs weak beneath you? I do not blame Monroe for hastening the inevitable. Willie Monroe Jr. has a child. He derives his income from hitting and getting hit. It’s a proposition fraught with peril. Maybe his calling it an evening with Golovkin will allow him more paydays in a profession with a short life span. Maybe it will allow him more quality time with his son. That makes him a reasonable man, not a cowardly one.

Those of us watching can often forget that “heart” sometimes equals “head injury.” And the fact of the matter is, when the career of a boxer ends, we aren’t around to wipe their mouths, drive them to the doctor, or remind them of who that person in the photograph next to their nightstand is. We are long gone. Oh sure, we might look back on one of their fights and say “remember the time…” and go on ad nauseam about the matches we recall and the times a guy took a beating and showed us all that “heart.” But when you see a video of Meldrick Taylor trying to speak and you can’t understand a word of it without subtitles, or you read about Magomed Abdusalamov only now being able to recognize people he’s known all his life, and communicating in nothing greater than short sentences 19 months after going into a coma from fighting Mike Perez, then you can tell me about “heart.”

Getting hit in the face is one hell of a way to make a living. The risks undertaken are enormous. Just getting in the ring with another person bent on causing you harm takes an unusual level of sack and conviction. Most of us couldn’t do it. That’s a thing worth remembering the next time we question a fighter’s heart.



-Kid Blast :

Hmm. I think the actual experience of being in the ring is a better gauge than perhaps speculating. I'm talking about Alvarado here who took brutal punishment before he "quit on the stool." That saying is not all that far from "punk." Many called Geale a punk as well, but he knew what was coming and chose to avoid further damage. Compared to Geale, Alvarado was in a different universe. The classic case may have been Peter McNeely quitting (via his trainer) against Tyson. That was all about grab the money with no damage to the fighter. That was not right. The only time I have some questions is when someone like Brian Polly shows up morbidly obese. That's not being a punk; That's being crazy.

-sumopop :

"Quit on his stool" is factual. There is no one you can find who believes that Alvarado was prepared for that fight. You are correct, he was taking a ton of punishment. That's not what I'm taking issue with. Context matters.--David.

-Pazuzu :

Right on, David. Geale is another one who has gotten a lot of flak for his TKO losses against GGG and Cotto. People say he quit. But in both cases, he was basically out on his feet and knew what time it was. No shame in that game. Also, just want to say, I appreciate your willingness to engage with those of us in the forum. Most of the writers on the top side of the TSS don't get down here in the forum, but you always do.

-sumopop :

I appreciate the give and take. I'd like to think it makes me better at this.--David

-Kid Blast :

Yes, kudos to David for engaging. He is the only one who seems willing to do that and that's the way you can get different perspectives. I like that.

-Kid Blast :

Hmm. If you mean by context, what the fans say, I totally agree, But no serious boxing fan or anyone who has been in the ring would resort to "punk." As for Alvarado, no one has been in more wars than David--including outside of the ring. I called that fight perfectly (it was an easy one to call) because he had no one in his corner to guide him (his manager /trainer had left him)--not that it would have mattered as Rios was more than fit and ready to eat him up. But the circumstances leading up to that slaughter were such that Mike had no chance whatsoever even if he were in some semblance of shape. Had he not quit, he would have been terribly damaged--if he hasn't been already. Those who booed him after the fight in Colorado wanted him to go out on his shield but sometimes that just is not the way to go. Quitting on a stool is factual. But what does that mean? It is what it is. In this case, he took a beating because he came in poorly prepared. That doen's change the fact that quitting on the stool was the right decision for him. Gavern did it against Wilder. Sam peter did it against Vitali. Tyson did it against McBride. I believe Brewster did it against Wlad. It's part of boxing. Sorry for the digression but I too hate it when bloodthirsty fans go after these guys. Cheers

-Kid Blast :

And remember, a boxer is out there to concuss another without doing him permanent harm. The risk-reward around that is terrible,

-Kid Blast :

That is all

-amayseng :

Monroe was let back in the fight by GGG who was toying with him, him quitting was legit. Geale on the other hand quit against GGG because he feared permanent damage, ok I get that, but quitting against Cotto was a disaster because he just came for a check knowing the weight would make him useless. As a father and provider I can not fault him for cashing in , though as a fan I fault him for the charade. I would for sure rather see a guy quit than to go on and have permanent or life changing damage.

-sumopop :

Here's the thing, Kid Blast. I didn't say a thing about Alvarado "quitting on his stool." I criticized his readiness for a fight. I don't blame him for stopping. I did hold him accountable for being unprofessional. I don't think that's unfair. The whole point of the article is to address "bloodthirsty fans." It seems I appreciate them no more than you. Honestly, I don't know where the disagreement is.

-Kid Blast :

No disagreement at all. Same page

-sumopop :

Actually, to be fair, I did say boxers I did mention the quitting on the stool in the next paragraph. My issue was not with them being hurt though.

-Radam G :

Everything depends on the makeup of the pug. The Alvarados, Geales, Monroes, and Julio Cesar Chavezes are twats and syet talkers. They are the types of pugs who will claim that they are ready to "die in" that squared jungle, but will quit in a bytch second. But there are pugs who are the real deal. And you have to save them from themselves. They will go out on their shields. And many have died because of it. On a Thread a few days ago, I posted about how many pugs' demises that I've personally seen. These dudes didn't give up the fight. May they rest in peace. I have no appreciation or respect for quitters. And then again, I've never walked a mile in their shoes. And maybe they saw the grim reaper nearby. Holla!

-brownsugar :

Boxing is designed for very special individuals. Sure anybody is free to try, but suffering one bad cut that never completely heals, one severe beating that leaves a fighter doubting himself at the wrong moment, or not being able to recover from injuries to a major joint (knee or elbow for example) and thats all it takes to derail a fighter's career permanently,....and still there's injuries caused by accidental head butts and other fouls. Without the proper passion, skill and genetics a fighter will never make it. I haven't even gotten to the topic of brain trauma. But for those who can thrive under one of the most hostile conditions in sports this side of being a Brahma Bull Rodeo Rider, I have nothing but the utmost respect.

-Kid Blast :

"Twats." Brilliant insight. Sickening.