I enjoyed the Joseph Parker / Junior Fa fight. I tuned in for the Povetkin / Whyte turnabout and I am tantalized by the prospect of a Joe Joyce / Olexsander Usyk bout. I’ve even heard a distant murmur about Fury and Joshua (or the buttheads that surround them) coming to terms, but it’s probably best not to get our hopes up. Don’t want to jinx it. Counting chickens you know.
Setting aside those things for the moment though, I’m afraid I have to go all Karen on your ass. Some of you. Many of you. Those of you that criticized Dubois as a quitter, that is.
First question, the obvious one: “Have you ever had your eye socket fractured?”
That’s what I thought.
For you liars that raised your hand: “After it was broken, was it then struck a hard blow by a 6’-6”, 260 pound man?” Did you then knuckle down, draw on your inner reserves, curl into a fetal position and cry like schoolgirl? Because that’s what I would have done.
My wife will occasionally walk through the room when I’m watching a fight. She’ll pause, and say something like “It’s just so …violent!” or something equally enlightening. She is expressing her revulsion at the sight two men hitting each other hard enough to draw blood, or knock each other down. This is an understandable reaction and evidence that my wife and I live in a civilized society. We don’t throw Christians to the lions for entertainment or execute criminals in a public square. And it is not for cruelty’s sake that we watch boxing.
I have explained to her that while it looks brutal, what may not be apparent is that the fighters have the ability to stop the violence at any time. Any time he feels he’s taking a beating and he doesn’t want to any more, he simply has to take a knee, and the beating stops. Period. The End. Or, he can take a knee, clear his head for a moment, then stand back up and re-engage in the fight. The choice is always his.
Without that option we’re all just cheering for torture.
Roberto Duran said “No mas”. Joe Frazier quit on his stool after the 14th round in Manilla. Liston remained seated after six. Dwight Muhammad Qawi turned his back on George Foreman.
Bert Cooper refused to answer the bell for round three against Foreman. Both he and Qawi cited concern for their health “I thought I was going to die” (or words to that effect) as their reason for quitting. Qawi received the raspberries of derision, Cooper didn’t get paid. (Of course it later came to light that he had been out partying and was probably hung over for the fight).
That’s harsh. That’s cold. That’s what Jack Johnson called ”the stern business of pugilism.” You sign a contract to fight, you gotta fight. Cooper’s purse was withheld because he “suffered no apparent injury”. George put the fear of the Lord in him with several thudding body shots, but he may not yet have broken any ribs.
Cooper needed to come out for more and at least gotten knocked down or something so that everybody knew what he knew – that he was a beaten man. The crowd just saw a man not fighting.
Not so Dubois. He fought nine rounds. I don’t know which round the fracture occurred in, but his eye was swollen early on, and got progressively worse. It could have been that last jab that did it. Regardless, the socket was broken and Dubois felt a tremendous jolt of pain when he got tagged in the tenth, and he took a knee.
His brain correctly interpreted the signals being sent to it from the eyeball region, saying “Ow! Something is wrong!” He didn’t know that his eye socket was broken, but he believed that he had been injured, and he was correct.
In Cooper’s defense, watch his fight against Michael Moorer. They both showed tremendous heart, trading multiple knockdowns. He lost that fight, but he was no quitter. I suspect he was telling the truth when he said he feared for his life after getting whacked by Big George. I’m sure his poor choices the night before contributed to that outcome, and maybe it was just that his purse was withheld, but I bet he wasn’t lying about the pain or the fear.
Of course we prefer that a fighter get off the floor and stage a comeback. It’s thrilling. It’s the best outcome for a spectator. Think of Rubio vs. Lemieux or Algieri vs Provodnikov. I’m sure Cooper and Dubois would have preferred that too, but ‘no apparent injury’ isn’t the same as ‘no injury’.
I broke my leg in 2012 – fell down some steps and ended up with my left foot pointed 180 degrees in the wrong direction. I immediately turned it back around.
We called for an ambulance, telling them I had broken my leg. A couple minutes later, as the EMT’s were loading me onto that surf-board looking thing, I heard one of them radioing the nearby hospital, giving them my age and other particulars, including the comment “No obvious deformation”. He was expressing some skepticism as to the nature of my injury.
The point is that I knew my leg was broken, even though no one else could see it.
We have cut men, referees, even a ring physician, all there to protect the fighters from injury. Sometimes they intervene and the fighter objects. More often than not the fighter objects. So when a fighter says “I better quit” maybe we should extend to him the benefit of the doubt.