'Don't Call It A Comeback': Why Should A Loss Today Mean Game Over Tomorrow?
23.10.08 - By Vivek Wallace: At a point in time where the media and fans apply labels such as 'pound-4-pound' like icing on a cake, it's easy to see how such profound expectations always seem to develop quicker than the fighters themselves are able to.
Article posted on 23.10.2008
In recent months, we've seen multiple fighters whom most believed to be at the pinnacle of the sport suffer humbling losses, and the aftermath based on fan garb was found to be even more humbling. Pavlik, Hatton, Cotto, Lacy, Diaz, and many others have recently found life on the other side of the fence, and rather than being celebrated for the formidable foes they really are, the same media that built them up has quickly torn them down.
It isn't blatant. Most boxing scribes today will find a way to remain in good graces, securing media credentials for future events, but for the most part, that whole "could-do-no-wrong" literary approach fades quicker than last night's moonlight.
As a boxing scribe who likes to maintain a certain level of depth at all times, I think it's an absolute aberration, because back in the day when Muhammad Ali lost, he was still welcomed to the ring with the fans' proverbial 'welcome' mat. When 'Sugar' Ray Leonard lost, his ability to bounce back and remain a contender was never questioned. Hell, "Iron" Mike went to the penn, came out, was never questioned, and still got the welcome mat. But today's landscape is a totally different vibe for some odd reason.
Remember when Ricky Hatton was touted as the best invention since corn flakes, and after becoming a cult phenom in England, he found an unrepentant end in the U.S.? Did his skill level change or was he just beaten by a better man? I think we can all agree he was beaten by a better man, but that still didn't stop the same people in the U.S. and England who made the fight seem so legendary from later using that "E" word relative to him....(EXPOSED). Hatton later spoke of how the experience made him "cry like a woman", and instead of understanding that us - the media - were partly the cause of that 'prop-you-up-to-let-you-down' experience, some of us made that introspective moment for him just as tough.
Jeff Lacy encountered this same thing. The guy was on fire, crosses the same pond in the opposite direction headed to England, gets dismantled and hasn't been viewed the same since. Instead of him being able to say, "Well, I know I still have the support of the great fight fans out there who want to see me rebound", he had to deal with the humbling effects of letting people down who probably didn't care much for him to begin with. It doesn't stop there, remember Miguel Cotto? The guy we touted for so long as being the most feared body snatcher in the sport. Well, after defeating a string of credible fighters that ended with a victory over Mosely, the guy was evolving into one of the best boxers in the sports deepest division, and on one night he happens to come up short and BAM! All of a sudden he has to evaluate everything because he's now no longer sure if the media and fans have his back, or if he's now just another fighter who's lost his swagga' as the proverbial 'flavor-of-the-month'.
I can think of a countless amount of men who've walked this lonely road, and more now than ever, I find myself feeling really bad for them because they sacrifice more than any of us truly know - SIMPLY FOR OUR ENTERTAINMENT.
If one loss was always such a crippling effect, we'd never have Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, or some of the other greats. To bring it closer to home, we'd never have journeymen-turned-cinderella-men like Glen Johnson and Carlos Baldomir; two fighters who have almost two dozen losses between them, yet still found a way to take a deep division by storm and make an impact.
When it all boils down, to quote the late Tupac Shakur, "If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day"! One loss has never been enough to take away from a fighters greatness, and despite the changing landscape, that won't change in this era. It can even be argued that most fighters we find to be all-time greats would have never reached that pinnacle had they not first tasted defeat to become better. Classic example, Roy Jones Jr. was knocked out brutally - twice - yet here he stands on the cusp of arguably the most remarkable turnaround in the history of the sport if he can defeat Calzaghe.
So in the end, maybe it's best to let these guys do what they do best, which is win, lose, or draw, simply entertain.
And trust me, this is no indictment on you, "Joe the fan" (pun intended). Who am I as a media member to talk about you when we all share the blame for the unnecessary pressure added to these fighters who are just trying to feed their families? The fans support their fighters with blind faith so that's one source of pressure. The media reacts to those raving fans and adds their own flavor, so there's another source of pressure. The fighters and their camps tend to talk too much at times so there's a third source of extra added pressure. When you stop and think about it, hell, we all play a role!
I don't know if it's good, bad, or just ugly, but what I do know is that of all of us in the mix, when things go bad in the ring, it's only the fighter that loses. So maybe sometimes us fans and media need to shut up and just let them win....Even when their efforts in the ring aren't good enough!
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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