IN Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray the beautiful title character looks at a portrait of himself and wonders what it would be like if the image aged and decayed instead of him. Wish granted, Gray pursues a libertine life of hedonism, crime and corruption, with the figure in the painting eroding over time while he remains agelessly handsome.
By the end (and spoiler alert here for a book that was written in the late-1800s), Gray becomes unhappy with the murderous (Spoiler alert: he kills someone) path that his vanity led him down so he decides to destroy the now grotesque image portrayed in the painting. Once he has done this his sins collapse in on him as he ages rapidly and dies — the rings on his fingers are the only means of identifying the body.
It is a metaphor for many things — Victorian-era pursuit of illicit pleasures while maintaining a certain moral public standing, for starters — but could also perhaps be used as a metaphor for the careers of fighters who failed to live the life between fights.