In a sport as brutal as boxing it’s often understandable that some fighters crumble under the pressure of a seemingly more powerful and talented opponent and simply give it up. This past Saturday night we saw Nicholas ‘Axe Man’ Walters quit in his corner, unable to figure out the clever Ukranian Vasyl Lomachenko.
The Nicholas Walters decision to call time on the bout is not unheard of but has already stirred up debate and controversy amongst the boxing community in the form of an age-old question: Is it acceptable that a fighter should withdraw without taking any dangerous level of punishment?
(Guillermo Rigondeaux has this to say on Walters’ decision to withdraw from the Lomachenko fight)
As we could see Nicholas Walters had been struggling to engage ‘Hi-Tech’ all night long – finding it hard to land clean shots of any variety – but was not at all rocked or hurt when he informed referee Tony Weeks of his desire to concede.
His decision seemed to be solely based on the fact that it was obvious Lomachenko was untouchable, and would probably go on to stop him later down the line.
When we think about it from this perspective it isn’t such a crazy thought.
In quitting early Nicholas Walters not only saved himself the embarrassment of being stopped but also avoided any more unnecessarily heavy blows.
We’ve all seen the accumulation of assaults rear their ugly head later on in fighters’ lives – if this is the image that was going through Walters’ mind can you really blame his for getting the hell out of there?
Well, some would say yes. Primarily the boxing fans at home and in the audience in attendance. We don’t pay good money to see someone throw in the towel too early.
We pay to see a good fight, or at least for a fight to reach it’s natural conclusion, whatever the result. Nicholas Walters may have ran out of ideas but Lomachenko wasn’t finished putting on a show.
In other words we weren’t the only ones who got robbed.
Whatever his motives, Walters might not have considered the career repercussions of such an act. He’s not the man who destroyed Nonito Donaire anymore.
He’s the man who quit against Vasyl Lomachenko. Whether or not he likes it, this is probably how history will read it.
It’s probably going to cost him financially in the long run, too.
Promoters and broadcasters won’t be rushing to push the next Walters super-fight any more, no matter how good he is. I doubt people will want to be linked to a fighter who very consciously chose not to fight in the biggest match of his life.
But, as I said before, he’s not the first man to quit and he certainly wont be the last. Roberto Duran knows all too well how it feels to be outclassed to breaking point.
Arguably the most famous of all in-ring retirements, Duran uttered the now infamous words ‘No Mas’ to put a stop to his rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Despite all of the theories surrounding why Duran quit, it’s widely accepted he was simply being embarrassed by a show-boating Leonard, who had greatly improved since the pair’s first meeting.
This type of embarrassment may have also been the cause of Saturday night’s result. Walters was unbeaten and had never faced anyone with such a vast and masterful technical arsenal as his opponent.
If he thought his own skills were top of the line how demoralising it must be to come across someone like Lomachenko.
The again, while Duran at least attempted to give Leonard a fight, there are other cases where there can be no other explanation but pure fear.
When Andrew Golota fought Mike Tyson back in 2000 he was a massive underdog, but that was no excuse for his disgraceful conduct.
Despite early success in the first half of round one he was stunned and dropped by Tyson at the end of the round.
Stumbling back to his corner, he pleaded with his handlers to stop the fight – a blasphemous request so early on. They refused and the fight continued.
(Tyson vs Golota)
After Tyson dominated the second round, Golota kept good on his intentions and refused to come out for the third, offering Tyson the TKO victory and sparking a mini riot in the process.
We can only speculate on how the fight would have played out. The logical bet goes on Tyson getting the third round KO. But this is no excuse for Golota ‘Chickening out’ as our American brethren commented.
I don’t care if it’s Mike Tyson or Mike Myers you’re in the ring with, you stay the course until there is no alternative but failure. That’s the job.
Quitting in any sport will always raise some eyebrows and paint you in an unfavourable light with any fans in the world.
Having said that, considering the physically and psychologically demanding nature of our sport, there is often more room for discussion on the subject.
Do I like the fact that Nicholas Walters quit on Saturday night? No. Do I see the logic behind his decision? Absolutely.
The real question is: Do I think any less of Nicholas Walters as a fighter and as a man?
My honest answer must be no. He gave himself and the fans enough time to realise there was not much else to be done, other than potentially succumbing to a violent KO or TKO loss.
He was completely bamboozled and he knew it. No questions asked here, only recognition.
The boxing fan in me isn’t happy about it, but I must admit there have been much worse instances to speak of.
There is very specific honour in admitting defeat to the better man and then there’s running from real confrontation. I believe Saturday night belongs to the former.
In the words of the immortal Kenny Rogers:
“You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em.”