The Liver Punch: This Is Why We Watch

For A.M.

Life is a series of tragedies. The things we love have a habit of disappointing us in the same way that the people we love do. They’re simply not what we hope they are. Mostly they are best they can be, no matter how much we wish it was otherwise.

Anytime this happens, it’s natural to deflect the blame onto them, because to do less feels like a rejection. Once the bruise has faded from our ego, all rejection is an assessment. It’s the horrible realization that in that space and time, no matter our best efforts, it wasn’t within our control.

It’s not the rejection that hurts the most, it’s the powerlessness. It’s knowing that control doesn’t exist and we are ultimately only responsible for ourselves. That is the pill that we cannot make ourselves swallow, and it’s the one we need the most. A human life is little more than a flag in a hurricane, but there are times and people who make us feel like we’re flying above the White House.

For this reason, Carl Fampton’s win over Leo Santa Cruz is the embodiment of everything that is best about our experience as a fan.

It’s not the Fight of the Year (Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas was better throughout), but this one FELT better.

This is why we watch.

It didn’t matter just because it was a good fight that helped determine the best featherweight at the top of a historically deep division. It didn’t matter because it brought two of the sport’s two most ravenous fanbases together.

It mattered because it was a goddamn good fight on paper and it became one in reality.

Two fighters in which many people have invested years proved exactly who they were. They didn’t let us down. Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton gave us everything they had, and we greedily accepted.

This is why we watch.

We watch because most of us never have the opportunity to let it all hang out. Through our own circumstance or personal defect, we never put everything on the line. We go through our lives at 80 percent effort, if that, confident that is enough. We are satisfied avoiding the pain that comes with full effort.

We learn from a young age to avoid pain.

This is why we watch.

We watch because boxing represents two people embracing pain. Everything we’ve learned to avoid is in front of us and there are people who court it. We see their sacrifice and feel it as our own. We put our own insecurities onto the combatants.

We put an inhuman onus on fighters because we ask them to be everything we can’t. We ask them to be passionate, dedicated, and disciplined. More than that, we ask them to take all of that and entertain us, so we can forget everything else.

Boxing fans are a cynical bunch. We have reason to be. But Saturday night was one of the times that reminds us all why we fell in love with this fucked up sport.

We got to see two fighters do their absolute best, and that’s special.

Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton left it all in the ring. They took us along for the ride, and we owe them a hearty thank you.

We spend the vast majority of our lives letting ourselves down and others in the process. We can’t help it. But every once in a while we get to see something that reminds us what it looks like when true love meets an iron will. We get to see an immovable object face of against an unstoppable force.

This is why we watch.