“The beaten fighter shrinks, becomes small” (paraphrased).
George Plimpton said this in the documentary When We Were Kings, about George Foreman, reminiscing about the Rumble in the jungle.
I suppose it was true then, as it was Saturday night, but I never saw the Rumble in the Jungle until long after the event. By the time I found a copy on VHS tape, George had already won the title a second time. Sure, that morning in Zaire he was the beaten man, but he was not reduced in my sight, knowing as I did his future history.
Not so Saturday night. I have often remarked that Kownacki looks like Dr. Evil, but after this fight he looked like a comedian in a bald wig. He looked tiny.
And it was so sudden. (I just went and looked at it again to make sure I was right) Kownacki rocked Hellenius with two good shots just before the first knock down (the one that wasn’t ruled a knock down). In a moment, in a split second he went from being this monstrous punching machine to being a squeaky toy, a rubber chicken, a Pikachu.
Yo quiero knock you out.
We don’t know what is to become of him. The rising star, the brute, the tireless hurt-maker, self-propelled as he was toward championship heights has, by one punch (really, it’s always just one), been toppled, knocked down, rolled down a rocky hillside to land, *plop* on the comeback trail.
And we don’t know how he will handle it. It can’t be easy.
Same thing with Deontay Wilder too. He looked very small after his last fight.
I imagine it’s something like this: In boxing, will is everything. I mean, all other things being more or less equal, that is. A fight between two experienced fighters in their prime will go to the one who wants it more. Watch Ali and Frazier for an example of two men of matching wills – the irresistible force vs. the immovable object. Two stubborn SOB’s they were. But I digress.
Will is necessary for success, and success builds confidence. So if you’ve got the iron will, and you keep winning, I think the confidence and will kind of combine to build a monster inside you. Joey Bosa has a monster inside him, Mike Tyson had one back in the day. You can see Wilder’s when he roars. It’s like Godzilla wearing a man-suit.
Getting knocked out removes the monster, deflates it like puncturing an inflatable dinosaur. All that’s left is the empty man-suit and the fighter is left wondering “what happened?” and “where do I go from here?”
Losing by decision does not remove the monster. Joshua was miniaturized by Ruiz, but Ruiz did not lose his monster in the re-match, because Joshua was wearing a skirt. You can’t make a fighter small if you’re wearing a skirt. Similarly, Klitschko did not shrink before Fury.
Ali and Frazier fought 41 rounds, monsters intact until finally Ali blinded Frazier and the air leaked out.
So now we wait.
There will be (and I wish there wasn’t, but I’ll still watch) a third Wilder / Fury fight. Joshua will fight Pulev, Ruiz is talking about fighting Arreola, Whyte is looking to fight Povetkin or Miller or Usyk.
Who is there to fight Kownacki on the comeback trail? Let’s just hope it’s not Tom Schwartz.