Fighters waving the white flag of surrender dates back to the creation of the sweet science, it’s not uncommon to see a combatant with the shake of his head, opt out of a difficult fight, often leaving fight fans to voice their dismay.
The stigma of which can follow him/her throughout their careers, I’ve always been an advocate of it’s better to stop the fight early than not at all, seeing more than my fair share of fighters leaving in ambulances never able to return to the glories that they were promised.
So to defend a debate against Boxers quitting during a fight is difficult because automatically I start to think primarily about the health concerns involved, playing devil’s advocate I can also see the reasoning behind fighters continuing when you know deep down they can.
Often it can be out of frustration that a fighter will not want to continue of his accord, others find an excuse in a minor injury to allow their corner or the referee to intervene.
The biggest example to date would be Roberto Duran’s ‘No Mas’ contest with Sugar Ray Leonard back in November 25, 1980, the teak-tough Panamanian turning his back on Leonard before uttering the infamous words which to this day have lingered over his otherwise Incredible career.
That night it was out of pure frustration that he quit, the speed and movement of Leonard mixed with the clowning nature was too much for one man to take, even a man like Duran, but here is where I would have hoped to find a fighter who had been born into hardship to make it in the toughest of sports to have shone through and seen out the contest whether it be with a win or a loss we will never know, we were robbed of a conclusion.
I suppose you could also couple Mike Tyson’s ear-biting of Evander Holyfield in the quitting debate, for the same reason as Duran, frustration getting the better of him, where he was left to find a way out of the contest but unlike Duran, it was without the scrutiny of being called a quitter.
More recent times have thrown up the likes of Victor Ortiz who clearly did so against Marcos Maidana and you could also say he did the same with Floyd, staying down when we knew he could get up and continue, even more recent you could add Ohara Davies who I felt could have fought on against Josh Taylor, these are just a couple of examples to which there are far better I am sure.
Fight fans ultimately want their fill of blood, sweat and tears from fighters, we as consumers are put off by a fighter who quits, I mean why should we pay our hard earned cash to watch someone find a way out when times get tough?
Conflicted it does however come at a price which is what we have seen happen to Magomed Abdusalamov, Gerald McClellan and to my hometown hero Johnny Owen which is just a few names that spring to mind and just a few of many.
Those men knew no limits, unfortunately, that leaves most to ponder on his/her actions at a later date, if of course, they are able to do so.
We love the thrill of the ride, Hagler Vs. Hearns, Ward Vs. Gatti and Barrera Vs. Morales put everything on the line, in so doing becoming the very fabric of the history of the sport, there was simply no quit in those men but In everyone, there is a flight or fight response, some will stand and trade whilst others will try to find an escape route, its in our DNA.
It’s important to remember that we as humans are also taught never to give up from an early age which is applicable to all walks of life and its the ones who dare to dream that make it to the top of the mountain in their chosen professions.
A fight can turn with a well placed shot, whether behind on the scorecards with little to no prospect of winning, we have seen fighters dig deep, Diego Corrales would be one of the biggest examples of such, he didn’t quit even though the odds were stacked against him against Jose Luis Castillo, he had been dropped twice, bleeding from his nose and mouth, behind on the scorecards but from nowhere found something, somehow to turn the tide, immortalising the bout as one of the greatest of all time, he made that conscious effort to keep fighting in the face of adversity.
On conclusion, I don’t have a problem with a fighter quitting when injured or knowing that by so doing could have long term issues, I have issues when a particular fighter is there for a payday, knowing that a brisk wind would call for a halt to the bout, fight fans who pay their admittance fee, deserves for that individual to give his all, to put all the work in the gym to good use, God loves a trier, an underdog story we can relate to, so by that reasoning, I can make an argument for a fighter to continue, its what the very foundation that this great sport is built upon.