At journey’s end, life is about the moments, the impression made on those closest to us and perhaps too, the fulfilment of our own potential. The peace provided by the sense of completion, as opposed to the artifice of possession, is life’s richest reward.
For those of us without the skill, or dedication to develop one sufficiently definitive to draw a crowd, this sense of completion can be humble and pass by all but our own scrutiny. And we are often our own harshest critic. This mundanity makes the pursuit of fulfilment no less important but it is done without the glare of the spotlight.
For fighters, with their careers compressed into a decade, perhaps two, there is precious little time to waste, nor latitude for misteps. It is the waste and the missteps which keeps fighters fighting too long and burdens those who fail with the demon of regret.
In what will surely prove to be the final performance of a gilded career, Nonito Donaire’s natural humility and dedication to his craft was rewarded. He left the ring as the loser, beaten on points by the Japanese phenomenon Naoya Inoue, but with his legacy enriched, the figurative embrace of the crowd and a warm hand shake from his future self, unshackled from the ghosts of could, would or should have.
The trophy, the belts, the future were Inoue’s. Only the past now belonged to Donaire.
With the baton passed, Inoue must now seek to capitalise on his new found status as one of the sport’s most important fighters and in doing so one day secure an equally glorious curtain call for himself.
By permitting veteran Donaire to take the gigantic Ali trophy for the night, therefore enabling the Filipino great to fulfil a promise to his young children to bring the prize home, Inoue demonstrated the qualities required to follow in Donaire’s footsteps and perhaps find the same peace I hope Donaire feels at the end of his career.
His legacy was enhanced by Thursday’s fight.
It can only be tarnished by fighting on.