And the sky is blue, grass is green. An obvious statement of course. But the weekend corner retirement of Acelino Freitas probably brought down the curtain on a distinguished career and it would be sad if the hard-punching Brazilian is remembered only for quitting versus Diego Corrales and young Juan Diaz at the weekend. It would be to overlook his longevity and the knockout streak of his youth.
It is very easy sitting on the sofa necking Tetley beer and eating fig rolls to expect more from our boxing champions, to expect them to push themselves beyond the usual human instinct for self-preservation, to literally leave something of themselves in the ring before accepting defeat. But the harsh realities of boxing at any level but particularly at the elite level Freitas has excelled would astound many uninitiated to the physical and mental strain fighting for a living causes.
Not that I’m about to cast any personal illumination on that, having never laced up a pair of gloves let alone allowed someone to hit me with theirs. However, having been around fighters and watched them both in the gym, in the ring and spoken to many at some length on the sacrifices they make before ducking between the ropes I feel qualified to comment on criticism a fighter receives for quitting in the ring. And it is because of this that I fully support Freitas’ right to listen to his body, his instincts and the voice inside him that says “enough”, to pull out without fear of undermining his entire fistic career.
True, all boxing fans applaud the likes of Joe Frazier, Evander Holyfield, Arturo Gatti and Dennis Andries who could take punishment and keep on coming. Their irrepressible resolve is both admirable and in some ways the bedrock of boxing, but the gumption it takes simply to fight, to prevail against weight making, to overcome ambitious hungry fighters and repel the human instinct for self-preservation as long as Freitas has deserves warm applause too.
I’m reminded of Nigel Benn’s sad departure from the professional ring against Steve Collins. Booed for failing to continue when hindered by a injured ankle the popular fighter was hurt more by the crowd reaction following the pain, blood and entertainment he’d provide in over a decade at boxing’s hardest coal face than anything the Irishman had inflicted.
Exactly what did the fans expect? Particularly in a generation that had seen both Watson and McClellan severely injured by their own bravery. Benn to leave boxing on a stretcher? Would that have been the only conclusion to satisfy their thirst?
And it is with that in mind that I commend Freitas for having the courage to quit and for his career up to that point.
Check out the vod pod to the right, to see the closing moments of the fight with Diaz, and potentially his career.