THERE is a word that strikes fear into a fighters heart. A word that can turn the most hardcore fan of a fighter into his biggest critic. This word and the sheer impact its actions entail can even see a fighter’s “friends” abandon them (this would lead me to question if they were ever real friends in the first place, but that’s another topic!). The word of course is QUIT. Four simple letters with a cascade of consequences.
It’s an unwritten rule that a fighter should never quit. We must endure, overcome and eventually triumph. The question I wish to ask today is “when is enough?” When does or should a competitor’s logical brain take over and say “this is too much, I have to think of my health”? Should a fighter rely on his corner to make that decision for them? What factors should go into that decision? Does any thinking actually take place? Or do we as fans, over-analyse a snap shot decision and attempt to add deeper meaning to it.
Much has been made of Kell Brook’s retirement vs Errol Spence. Kell has been the victim of some vicious backlash online. A number of paying fans feel hard done by, they feel Kell did not behave honourably. I think maybe their innate bloodlust was not satisfied?. Given the effort that Kell had put in, the passionate fight back he attempted upon rising from a late knockdown. I feel this backlash has been harsh to say the least.
As a fan of the sport, I love a war and a battle as much as the next man but I am acutely aware that we are not in the Roman coliseum. We are not watching soldiers battle to the death. We are watching two sportsman that are human beings first and foremost with families and lives outside of the sport. I feel that as a fan all you can ever ask or expect of a competitor is that they give their best effort. That is exactly how I felt at the conclusion of the Brook–Spence contest. In Brook, I saw a man competing at the highest level, who went back and forth for 11 pulsating rounds. A man whose opponent was growing in both strength and confidence, who had just knocked Kell down and was going for the kill. Lastly I saw a man who after his great effort, was physically spent and had suffered a broken eye socket (an injury he had previously suffered in the other eye and had been told by the surgeons he could have potentially been blinded). When Kell Brook took the knee and was counted out, I took all of the above into consideration and thought “what a WARRIOR!” NOT “what a coward”.
There have been a number of times throughout boxing history when a fighter has said “enough” or even “No Mas”. It is a lot more common than the average casual troll will let on. We would never think to call into question the fighting hearts of Duran, Chavez, Tszyu, V. Klitschko or Cotto to name just a few.
I think now more than ever we must remember; one round, one fight, one moment CANNOT and SHOULD NOT define a fighter’s career.