The Liver Punch: What’s He Got Left?

All fighters, and all people, eventually get old. Time robs us of of our physical and mental faculties with complete indifference. The reason so many of us live in the past is because that’s when we had not only the skill, but the energy to accomplish our goals. A fortunate few have their primes ripped from them by accident or circumstance, but the rest are left to wither on the vine until they slowly become rancid and useless. It’s a sad thing to watch, but it’s a universal experience, so we share it willingly and speak of it often.

“You should’ve seen him/her/me back in …”

In almost no sport is this more painful to watch than boxing. Cal Ripken slowly and uncoordinatedly playing shortstop as he padded his consecutive games played record was sad. A boxer long past his prime is horrifying. You can see them see the openings and not be able to pull the trigger. You watch as they recognize incoming punches but can’t avoid them. The erosion of their physical virtue is obvious and totally unavoidable.

Saturday night, at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas,  junior featherweight Nonito Donaire will attempt to prove to himself and the viewing public that at 33 years old he still has the tools to be a top prizefighter.

Donaire’s opponent, Jesse Magdaleno, is 24, in his physical prime, and one big win away from being a legitimate contender. It is a true crossroads fight. A win elevates either fighter, and a loss sends them off to rebuild against inferior competition until their name is valuable enough to be sacrificed on the altar of whatever budding star comes along next.

There was a time when Donaire appeared on the cusp of being the next big star. He exploded onto the scene by detaching Armenian axe murderer Vic Darchinyan from his senses with a lightning quick left hook in 2007. Two thousand fucking SEVEN. I can’t really say why Donaire never quite crossed over. It might be his size, or personality, or a string of boring fights, or a combination thereof.  I’ve always thought that he fell too much in love with his left hook and began loading up on that punch instead of punching in combination and creating opportunities to counter.

At any rate, here were are and there he is. Donaire is 33 and many of the attributes that led to him denting skulls are gone or at least in such a state of torpor that we may never see them again. Jesse Magdaleno is a good young fighter, and if Donaire no longer possesses the will to compete or the reflexes to win, we’ll know a few rounds in. I can’t wait.

Delirium Tremens

  • I still don’t care about Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas. No one else seems to either. It’s actually a decent matchup, but the silence is deafening. And surprising. No one stays popular forever.
  • I’m almost dead certain that Juan Manuel Lopez is going to meet a tragic end, in or out of the ring, but holy fuck that lunatic is fun in the ring. If you didn’t watch him stop Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. last weekend, then fight Vazquez’s trainer, get over to YouTube right now and check it out.
  • Lucas Browne vs Shannon Briggs is being sanctioned by one of the alphabets for some sort of interim nonsense. Christ fucking jesus what a steamy puddle of diarrhea. But yeah, the belts “matter.” Whatever the fuck that means.