The Plague of Quitting

October 25, 2011

I am fanatical about boxing. With that being said I am also a realist. Therefore I am fully aware that most Americans are unaware that the sport still exists, and probably about 25% of those who know wish that it didn’t. So it is for the oblivious masses of this country that I would like to briefly recount the latest fight that has made me sick to my stomach.

On October 15, 2011 a very decrepit 46-year-old fighter named Bernard Hopkins squared off against challenger and former undisputed champion Chad Dawson on pay-per-view. The fight started out very boring as the fighters felt each other out and made very little contact with one another. Then in the 2nd round controversy struck as Hopkins, who has been known to be a slightly dirty fighter, missed his opponent with a right hand and proceeded to climb onto his back. Dawson then lowered his shoulder which sent Hopkins falling to the canvass where he would remain for several minutes complaining of pain in his shoulder. The referee asked him could he go on and he said no. So the referee—well within his rights—ruled the fight a TKO victory for Dawson. Only to have that ruling overturned a few days ago by the WBC who decided to rule the fight a draw and allow Hopkins to keep his belt.

The truth is that Bernard Hopkins does not deserve to keep the belt and he needs to exercise his option of retiring from the sport immediately. In boxing you do not quit—period. If Hopkins corner wanted to throw in the towel then that would have been acceptable, if the referee would have stopped the fight then that would have been understandable, however, a fighter is never supposed to quit.

We all know that there is a serious economic crisis right now so how can Bernard Hopkins get paid $1,000,000 to behave like a coward. I hate to say it but boxing is not football where time stops because a man is injured, it’s not soccer where faking injuries are part of the game, and it’s not basketball where fouls are called every time players make serious contact with one another. On the contrary boxing is not merely a violent sport but rather boxing is violence. It is controlled, trained, beautiful, pure, violence. Furthermore boxing is combat and if you quit during combat then you are as good as dead.

In the past fighters have finished fights with broken arms, cut, bruised, blind, and out on their feet, but they finished. Nowadays fighters quit all the time and people condone it [see Devon Alexander vs. Timothy Bradley earlier this year]. Journalists condone it, ring analysts condone it and then they wonder why every fight fan under 25 would rather watch the UFC than suffer through a telecast of the ancient craft of boxing. I’m sure college students equate boxing with the medieval sports of fencing and jousting.  I’m sure they can’t name the heavyweight champion of the world, and I’m sure many of today’s young athletes can get a man in an armbar but can’t throw a basic jab. It shouldn’t shock anyone that the younger generation has quit on boxing because boxing quit on itself.

Bernard Hopkins is not a champion. He was at one point but now his career is over. Boxing needs to make some serious changes before the plague of quitting gets any worse.