A Boxer's Heart - Friend or Foe ??? 

A Boxer's Heart - Friend or Foe ???

A lot of people consider "heart" to be the most important trait when boxing. While having "heart" definitely has certain advantages. Heart can also be a boxer's downfall if not properly contained.

My first case is the recent Casamayor vs. Corrales fight. The fight was both beautiful and brutal at the same time. Both boxers displaying excellent skill, and passion. With the realization that the winner of the bout would be in the best possible position to challenge 130 lb. Kingpin Acelino Freitas, while the loser of the bout will be left to attempt to regain credibility as a contender in the Super Featherweight division. With all of this on the line, both fighters came into this fight determined to win a decisive battle. The fight would only go six rounds, but more action and drama than most 12 round fights. Both fighters taste canvas during the fight Joel Casamayor tasting it once in the forth round, and Diego Corrales resting on the mat in once in round three and then again in round four. Corrales suffered a cut from an "accidental headbutt" Joel Casamayor must be the clumsiest person in the world; he seems to accidentally headbutt a lot of people. But the real drama begins in round six; Diego Corrales begins bleeding profusely from the mouth. Upon the close of round six Dr. Margaret Goodman (fight-doctor) immediately begins to examine the blood coming from Diego's mouth, seconds after which she advises the ring judge Tony Weeks to end the fight, stating in her expert opinion that Diego Corrales couldn't continue. So the winner of the fight and new IBA Super Featherweight Champion Joel Casamayor. But Diego Corrales doesn't feel as though he is unable to continue, So Diego walks around in the ring begging and pleading to both Tony Weeks and Dr. Goodman to let the fight continue, for just one round, Corrales was confident that all he needed was one more round. It was reported that Diego Corrales' mouthpiece had "burrowed" its way into the inside of his lip. Nearly finding its way back out the front of Corrales' lip. Even with the immense pain that must be involved in such an injury, with the risk of becoming permanently disfigured and even disabled from this injury, Corrales seemed willing to risk it all for one more round. This is the first case in my theory of "Too much heart can be harmful."

The second case I will make is a particularly serious one, in my opinion. The four time heavyweight champion and former Cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield has always been known for his tremendous heart, as well as great boxing skills. Having fought every top fighter in and around his division since his professional debut in 1984. Evander, now finds himself 40 years old, with boxing skills that are rapidly diminishing, a speech that sadly seems to get slower with every interview given by Holyfield, not to mention a sting of unimpressive fights dating back to the last millennium which are beginning to overshadow the great accomplishments made by Holyfield. Yet Evander Holyfield still fights and dreams of one day becoming "Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World." On October 4, 2003 Evander stepped into the ring with what seemed on paper to be an easy win for Holyfield, fighting a "Blown-Up Cruiserweight" in James Toney. Finally Evander Holyfield is the bigger fighter ( albeit not by much ) James Toney came into this fight with one game plan, to stand in front of Evander Holyfield and attempt to knock him out. The two fighters traded blows through out the night, by the 9th Round Evander Holyfield seemed to be in another dimension, he didn't seem to be in the fight, and to most it became brutally apparent that the fight should be stopped, Evander was hurt, and hurt badly. Now myself being a boxing fan I always enjoy a good fight / knockout, But for the last round or so, I found myself on the verge of tears, begging, and pleading, and even screaming, at the television to stop the fight, Evander was being brutally beaten, I was afraid for Evander Holyfield's life. After the fight Holyfield seemed vacant, his mind did not seem to survive the fight (I shouldn't be joking about it, it is a very serious matter.). The very next day while I sat at my desk at work reading articles on various boxing sites, I came across a new article, about how Evander Holyfield plans to continue fighting. There is no doubt in my mind that Evander Holyfield is beginning to show signs of brain-damage, and I can't see how any boxing commission / Athletic Commission / Sanctioning Body can let Evander Holyfield continue to punish himself, when will they realize he shouldn't be fighting anymore? When he is in a coma? This to me is a severe case of a fighter having too much heart for his own good; here is a case that could end in a fighter being killed by his heart, and passion for the sport of boxing. I hope that Evander Holyfield decides that it is time to hang up the gloves, for the sake of his children and family.

My final case is a completely different perspective on the subject. The day was April 1st, 2000 with the WBO Heavyweight Title on the line, then champion Vitali Klitschko takes on challenger Chris Byrd. Vitali Klitshko completely dominates Chris Byrd for 9 rounds winning the fights on all judges score cards 88-83 (X2) and 89-82 all three in favor of Vitali Klitschko. But after 9 full rounds Vitali Klitschko retires on his stool, having suffered a torn-rotator cuff at some point earlier in the fight, Vitali decided to take a loss, and lose his WBO Belt, rather than lose full mobility of his arm, and his career. Vitali's decision to retire in that fight sparked criticism and hatred amongst "fans" Vitali, and his brother Wladimir were immediately dubbed the Quitschko Brothers, and statements regarding Vitali having no heart begin emerging and would stay with him through his rise to #1 contender to the WBC Title held by Lennox Lewis. Being the #1 contender for over a year, with no attempt by Lennox Lewis made to fight rightful challenger Vitali Klitschko, Vitali sees his only chance at fighting Lennox Lewis for the title is by court jurisdiction. Vitali begins to file a suit to force Lennox Lewis into taking his mandatory defense. Lewis on the other hand doesn't seem to be phased by the lawsuit, he then signs on to fight Kirk Johnson (a mediocre boxer with limited skills and even more limited power) Lennox Lewis then offers Vitali Klitschko a fight on the undercard of the Lewis v. Johnson bout, with the promise of a Lewis v. Klitschko fight next provided that both Lewis and Klitschko win the respective fights. Vitali opts to take a fight against then unbeaten prospect Cedric "The Bos" Boswell. Then the unexpected happened, just two short weeks before the fight Kirk Johnson is forced to withdraw from the fight, citing a torn pectoral muscle as the reason. This leaves Lennox Lewis with two options, neither of them very attractive. The first is to cancel the fight, and remain inactive having already been inactive a year. Or find a new opponent and face him blindly, without the benefit of viewing fight tapes, sparring with similar fighters, basically the fight would be two guys who know nothing about each other, being forced to learn and adapt as the fight goes on. A formal announcement regarding the status of the fight card that night was held in just around a week away from the actual fight date. Lennox Lewis announces that his official challenger is none other than #1 contender Vitali Klitschko. This being a less than ideal situation for Vitali Klitschko, who now has a little less than one week until the fight promises to prove that both he and his brother Wladimir are truly skilled boxers. There were many reports that Lennox Lewis did in fact know he was going to be facing Vitali Klitschko, so for Lewis his training started a week before the official announcement was made to the public, and Vitali, thus giving Lewis a miniscule advantage in having an extra week of training, which while seeming like nothing, actually has a world of difference when it comes to fighting with only one week to train. Regardless of training, Vitali jumped at the chance to prove his much doubted skills versus the Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis, and he did just that he made Lennox Lewis earn his pay the hard way. Klitschko staggered Lennox as early as round two, then a cut breaks out on Vitali's eye (the source of the cut is a much debated topic).With this being Vitali's first cut, there were questions as to how he would handle it. Vitali never even acknowledged a cut existed, as he continued his quest for the Heavyweight Title, and respect. As the fight went on Vitali's cut spread further and further apart, with Lennox rubbing his abrasive braids against the cut, in successful attempt to further damage the cut. After each round the cut was closed up and the bleeding was stopped thanks to the best cutman in the business Joe Souza. Vitali continued on his gameplan and gets Lewis in trouble a few more times, although also getting into a bit of trouble himself. At the end of round six the referee stops the fight due to Vitali's cuts. At the time of the stoppage Vitali was leading on all scorecards 58-56. Had the referee deemed the cut to have been started by an accidental headbutt, that fight would have gone to the scorecards, in which Vitali would have won. As Vitali hears that he has lost the fight, he angrily jumps off his stool and begins screaming, he can't understand why they stopped the fight, but when Lennox Lewis is announced as winner, an unexpected thing happened. The crown begins booing Lennox Lewis, and cheering Vitali Klitschko. Vitali had proven himself, to be a talented, strong fighter, and he also proved to have more heart than he was given credit for. In this case we have a fighter who never lacked "heart" he simply knew that a win against Chris Byrd, and retaining the WBO Title, were not worth risking having to retire early. But when faced with a fight versus Lennox Lewis for the WBC Title, a career defining fight, Vitali realized everything that this fight meant, and rose to the occasion and even though he did not win the fight, Vitali won over a whole new fan base, boxing fans in the United States, and also sent a Heavyweight Champion running, hiding, and considering retirement, with so many questions remaining for Lennox Lewis regarding his physical condition, his ability to get into top shape in a 2 1/2 month training camp. But even with all of these things there is one thing that is for certain should Lewis decide to continue boxing, and grant Klitschko a rematch, this would be the biggest PayPerView event we have seen in a long time. The outcome would be virtually impossible to predict. Considering both fighters now knows each other's basic style, and this time around they would both have a full training camp.

In conclusion, I believe that there is a delicate balance between the heart and soul of a fighter and the analytical, intelligence / skill level that a fighter needs to succeed. A fighter needs heart / soul to persevere, compel, and to supply the sheer determination, but these alone will only take the fighter so far. The fighter will also need to rely on his ability to analyze opponent's style, and punch placements, and intelligently work up a game plan, on the spot and follow the plan throughout the fight, while maintaining a plan to assure safety. Hopefully soon we will find quick means of testing damage to one's brain, body, and cognitive skills and based on these skills fighters will either be sanctioned or not. Thus ensuring safety for fighters at risk.
Thank you for reading my novella here.I look forward to any comments Mike "DjNecrogenic" Correa

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Comment Good , well written article, have to agree with you for the majority of it.Especially about Holyfield. Dunno about LL's 'abrasive braids' though. Its his hair, not a brand of damn pan scourer.

Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:26 am MST by MR Black, innit

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