Last week, still grouchy from the awful scorecards in Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward, I pondered if Nicholas Walters might give Vasyl Lomachenko a real test, and in doing so elevate both fighters. We got about half of that. Lomachenko was elevated in some minds because he was brilliant. That Walters decided after seven rounds to quit was surprising to all and infuriating to most. He wasn’t getting beaten up as much as he was starting to get embarrassed.
Shame is a curious thing. In a moment it can cause you to take action that will affect the way people see you for years to come, and how you see yourself. How you react to that is also a curious thing. Perhaps Walters’ capitulation will become his red badge of courage. Perhaps it will end his career. One thing is for certain, no one will let him forget about it for a long time.
How we as fans react is not a curious thing. There’s an intense need that the populace has to demand contrition. Public apologies and “making people famous” are the new tar and feathers. Immediately following his decision to stay on his stool, Walters evinced no embarrassment. He didn’t even feign injury, a tactic we all seldom believe, but often tacitly accept. He made excuses. Nothing is surer to rouse the furor of the mob than a shameless display.
If you don’t believe me, ask Victor Ortiz. He was persona non grata after surrendering to Marcos Maidana. It wasn’t that he’d quit, it was what he said about it. “I don’t think I deserve to be getting beaten up like this.” It’s about the least fighterly thing anyone has ever said. HBO might’ve saved him from himself by not insisting on interviewing people with a fresh concussion, but the audience damn near demands it, so we get it. Likewise when Ortiz stayed on his stool against Josesito Lopez, that time with a clearly broken jaw.
It wasn’t that he quit. It was that he wasn’t embarrassed about it. He offered no apology for his actions, as though we are somehow owed one. Paying customers don’t want to hear that, because we are paying for a show, but it’s the truth. You pay your money and take your chances. That Ortiz has been several extremely entertaining wars, including the ones in which he quit, is lost on some, but not me.
Now, the artist formerly known as Vinny Facelube (h/t Eric Raskin) is set to finally settle his blood feud with Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios in February. They’re both shot. Ortiz’s chin may be totally gone, and it appears that Rios’s chin is all he has left. Why am I so pumped to see this fight? Because it’s a trainwreck. And a trainwreck always delivers something memorable.
Fuck the legacy, pound-for-pound lists and alphabet titles. Bring me two washed up lunatics who truly hate each other. We deserve something to make us laugh, cringe and gasp.
- HBO’s announce team continues to be the best in the sport. That it has devolved so horrifically since Larry Merchant was “allowed” to retire is a testament to how awful everyone else’s is.
- I pick on Max Kellerman a lot, but he really needs to shut the fuck up. His cynical cheerleading is nauseating. Bring back the lame historical references, just stop telling me how great Ward and Lomachenko are. I’m watching the goddamn fight, I can see it.
- I don’t care about Haymon-gate. Tried to, but I’m not wading through legal documents. I would rather listen to an isolation of Max’s call of Ward-Alexander Brand on a loop than go down that rabbit hole. Let me know when it’s over.
- In case you hadn’t noticed, the heavyweight division is still a complete farce. David Haye vs Tony Bellew will do great numbers in the U.K. and for the life of me I cannot fucking understand why. Haye is a joke who shit the bed in his only big fight in the division. Bellew is fat at cruiserweight and terminally undertalented.