May 8, 2011
There are very few things in this world that are sadder to watch than a busted fighter in a championship fight. I just had the misfortune of watching Shane Mosley lose practically all 12 rounds to Manny Pacquiao. In retrospect it isn’t just that he lost the fight its how he lost. There were moments when you could tell he wanted to let his right hand go, there were several more moments when everyone watching the fight could see that Shane wanted to follow his jab up with a combination, but he just couldn’t do it. He couldn’t get off, he couldn’t pull the trigger, he’s too old mentally, and he really needs to retire. But see that’s exactly the problem. You can never tell a fighter to stop fighting, for that is what they do. To tell a boxer to retire because they aren’t as good as they used to be would be just as absurd as telling Terry McMillan to stop writing books because she will never be able to top Waiting to Exhale.
Writing and fighting come from the same part of the soul. Both of these crafts require moments of extreme social isolation which often times lead to feelings of intense loneliness. Both of these art forms stress individuality, and when done effectively, always bring out the deepest secrets of a person and place them on center stage. It is said that you can learn more about a person by watching them fight for one round than you would by talking to them for an entire lifetime. Indeed when you watch a person spar in the boxing gym it is the equivalent of reading their journal, their blog, and their autobiography all wrapped up into one.
So what did we learn about Shane Mosley tonight? We learned that his mind and body are no longer united, thus forcing his soul into a state of confusion. This is extremely problematic because you cannot win a championship fight—especially not against Manny Pacquiao—without mind body and soul working together in complete harmony. As much of a warrior as Shane is he can no longer will his body to do the impossible, yet when asked about retirement after the fight he stated with a bruised face and a battered heart that he “could still get in there with these young guys.” It was astonishing.
It is this mentality that kept Mark Twain writing books well into advanced stages of dementia, and it was this mentality that enabled John Milton to write Paradise Lost after he lost all of his sight. A true champion can’t help but to keep going. To keep doing it. Even after dawn has turned to dusk, even after the once large crowds dwindle down to only a faithful few, after the last bell has sounded, after the last page is published, there are still punches that need to be thrown, there are still so many words that need to be said. How can a person quit what they truly love if in fact they truly love it?
I supposed I may have to answer this question at some point in my life, but for Shane Mosley that point is right now. Shane needs to ask himself whether or not his personnel happiness is worth more than his physical health. And that is perhaps the toughest question for a real fighter like Shane Mosley to answer.