There’s a reality known to anyone from a small town. It’s that your peers cannot wait for you to fail. Any step outside the well-trod path is met with raised eyebrows from those who know that this spells your doom. When you do manage to go forward and make something truly your own, those very same people will be saying that they believed in you all along. They are also the same people who will be waiting to laugh and point when you crash back to earth.
No one likes a human being. No one really wants a flawed hero. People like infallible champions and outright losers. They make for more tidy stories and ultimately they don’t force us to examine or own myriad weaknesses.
Behold, I have become death. The destroyer of worlds.
In moments, men can feel that power. And their fellows will carry them as gods. Both are liberated and raised by the experience. Attaining greatness is important to an individual. Celebrating and sharing in it is universal.
This past Saturday, we saw a collection of men fight. Two of them had briefly experienced deification. One of them might.
Manny Pacquiao is human. His utter destruction at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 was written off for many until his meek surrender to Floyd Mayweather in 2015. As Hemingway opined, “A man may be destroyed but not defeated.” It took both happening for the luster to fade.
Nonito Donaire is also human. He has been so for a while longer. Robbed of his size and seemingly his motivation, Donaire got embarrassed by Guillermo Rigondeaux and then knocked the fuck out by Nicholas Walters. But he fought on, and always with full effort.
Both men have won more than they’ve lost since their mortality was exposed. Both men are still fighting. Both men are still entertaining. Both men are still really fucking good.
That one won and the other lost on Saturday night is immaterial. They both gave all of themselves. There were times for each when 60 percent would wow us. Now they give everything to be met with borderline indifference.
No one likes a human being.