What does a fighter struggling, even in a win, say about his career?
Answer: Not a fucking thing.
Sometime in the last decade or two, the TV talking heads and social media have convinced us that every tiny aspect of every performance can be used to indict an athlete or that they prove greatness. It’s nonsense. Legacy is by its very nature past tense, so we do fighters, and more importantly ourselves, a complete disservice by focusing on what things will mean in 20 years instead of appreciating what we are witnessing.
You might think that I’m referencing the gasping that occurred when Gennady Golovkin looked human by losing a round to Kell Brook Saturday night, but I’m not. I’m referring to the actual best fighter on the planet, Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez.
Gonzalez stepped up in weight, again, and defeated a highly rated fighter (Carlos Cuadras) to claim another scalp and alphabet title in the process. That he actually had to fight his ass off to accomplish that has led some people to question what this all means.
These are typically the same people who endlessly bemoan bouts that aren’t the exact fight they want to see. You know the type. No matter what happens, it’s a sign that either the fight was a farce, or the favored fighter is a fraud that can’t handle anyone decent. There’s no pleasing them, and if you’re smart, you’ll ignore them.
We have access to more information than has ever been available, so we’re also inundated with hot takes and can spend hours arguing over minutiae on social media. This has created a toxic environment in which the actual joy of being a fan is forgotten because we’re too goddamn busy telling other people that they’re wrong. I submit that if you were doing anything other than marveling at the amazingly high level fight you just witnessed at the end of Gonzalez-Cuadras, you’re missing the point of watching boxing.
Gonzalez is a generational talent whose skill and prodigious physical gifts have only recently entered the awareness of the sport at large. Much of that is because he started out at 105 pounds. Many of us ignore the low end of the scale until someone truly special comes along. Well, he’s here. He’s fucking amazing. And he’s doing something we wish the big stars would do: challenging himself every time out.
That’s something that damn near every fan wishes every fighter would do. Immediately switching gears to breaking down the fighters, instead of the fight, is myopic and wrong headed.
Also, can we retire the phrase “pound for pound champ?” It’s fucking stupid. The mental masturbation about pound for pound is bad enough, but calling a guy who is an actual champion, in an actual division, by some pretend superlative is ridiculous. The notion that Gonzalez struggling with Cuadras in a win somehow implies that Andre Ward is still a better fighter reduces our sport to some bullshit video game interpretation of life, and I’m not having it.
There are many reasons to bemoan the state of the world, sports, and boxing in particular. There are also a great many things that are special and are worthy of celebrating simply for their own beauty. When you accidentally stumble on one of them, don’t fuck it up by wondering what it means in relation to everything else and how you’ll view it in 2040. Just enjoy it.
- By the way, Golovkin losing the 2nd round to Brook means absolutely nothing. He wasn’t exposed. He lost a round to a good fighter. Big fucking deal. The fight ended up pretty much how everyone knew it would.
- Rumors are circulating on social media that Danny Garcia might forgo a fight no one cares about (Andre Berto) for a fight that we will all laugh at (John Molina). I don’t really know what to make of Garcia, but I know I don’t give a shit what he does anymore.
- Danny Jacobs’s win over Sergio Mora meant nothing. I’m sure they both think it did, but blasting out a 35-year-old fringe contender who doesn’t have a single win of note at middleweight isn’t impressive or important.
- Pour one out for Jesus Soto Karass. Yeah, he’s a club fighter, but he’s been mighty entertaining over the years, both in the ring and wandering around casinos drunk and shirtless.