The Liver Punch: Flawed Gods And Relatable Heroes

It’s easy to love what we perceive to be perfect. It’s a childish impulse, but one to which all of us have fallen prey. Everyone has had a relationship that seemed destined for greatness fall apart when the vulnerabilities of one or both parties came to light. We either recoil in horror because we are reminded how insecure and flawed it is, or we make excuses to avoid facing harsh reality.

This is true of religion, relationships, and sports. All of them are supposed to enrich our lives. At our best, they inspire us to be better than we thought we were capable of being. At our worst, they delude us into acting against what is best for others and ourselves.

I never really understood the cult of Jorge Linares. He’s a wonderful offensive fighter, and I freely admit that his selfie game is nonpareil, but I could never quite get over him gassing late in big fights against inferior opponents. I put that, as much as his paper-thin skin down to his three losses (all stoppages, btw).

Those losses seem but a moment ago, but the last was four and a half years ago. It’s true that he hasn’t faced murderers row in that span, but Linares has stopped seven of the ten opponents he’s had since succumbing to his anatomy and physiology against Sergio Thompson. That he now finds himself atop the heap at lightweight is a testament to his talent and perseverance, and a bit to the shallowness of that division.

If you missed Linares’ fight against Anthony Crolla (another fighter who knows about coming back from the brink) on Saturday in Manchester, you missed a wonderful performance. You also missed the inescapable thrill of watching a brilliant but flawed fighter. You missed the chance to marvel at a fighter’s virtuosity while simultaneously cringing. That’s what it is to watch a Linares fight. You gush about his combinations in one breath, then hold it the next, because you know he’s one mistake away from disaster.

So there we were, watching Linares circle and fire in rapid combination, win round after round, and show no frustration when referee Terry O’Connor acted like a member of Crolla’s team. We watched wondering when those cuts would get deeper and Linares would go from hurt to injured. We watched as tense in our seats as Linares often is in the ring (that’s why he has stamina issues, btw). Then we got to see something wonderful. We got to see Linares relax and turn it up in the championship rounds, coming away with a well deserved win.

The fight was never as close as the UK announcers (and judges) thought it was. Linares was in control for vast stretches, but he had never actually gone twelve rounds, win or lose. In fact, his only fight to go past the 10th was when Antonio DeMarco stopped him in the 11th round of a fight in which he’d won nine of the previous ten, so the apprehension was justified, even if it was ultimately unnecessary.

We all hope that at some point we will get our shit together. We hope that we’ll be able to overcome the faults that have hamstrung us in the past. That’s why people love fighters like Linares. He reminds us that talent and skill are important, but perseverance is their master. And also that there’s nothing unmanly about moisturizing, manicures, or taking selfies with a French Bulldog (Author’s note: There are maybe 4-5 people on earth who can get away with those 3 things without being called a sissy. You aren’t one of them & neither am I).

Delirium Tremens

  • When Paulie Malignaggi’s not being a complete PBC shill, that guy really knows boxing. He’s excellent when explaining the action in front of him and offering overall analysis of a fight’s progression, which is the problem for most “expert” analysts. The guys who know it can’t explain it and vice versa. That he’s largely a contemptible douche is another matter entirely.
  • Sky Sports blow-by-blow announcer Adam Smith pronouncing Jorge as “Hor-gay” all fight long was retarded. No one takes pride in mispronouncing non-English names like the English. There’s no way that wasn’t intentional. Fuck yourself, you ponce. Get it right.
  • Ricky Hatton hasn’t let himself go. He just figured out a way to make money without having to make weight. Love that guy.
  • Tyson Fury has officially pulled out of his rematch against Wladimir Klitschko. Again. This time it’s not drug tests or broken ankles. It’s only been said that Fury is medically unfit. Rumors have circulated that he’s having mental health issues. I always thought he was only pretending to be batshit crazy. I hope he gets the help he needs, mental health has an unfortunate stigma and it’s hell on individuals and their families.
  • I guess I should add that I didn’t give a shit about that rematch. The first fight was nearly fucking unwatchable.