One of the most depressing, and all too common themes in the fight game is a boxer who doesn’t know when to call it quits. For some fighters financial necessity means they literally cannot afford to call time on their career- fighting is the only thing they can do to put food on the table.
Yet the great Sergio Martinez, who is one of the few fortunate enough to have fashioned a retirement fund with his fists, just cannot seem to throw in the towel. I refer to the recent revelations that the former long time lineal middleweight king is apparently set to see a doctor to determine whether he can resume his career.
Whilst it seems so plainly obvious to everyone that retirement is the only option for the 40 year old, injury ravaged Argentine, Martinez’s fighting spirit and desire has induced in him a state of denial. But do we really expect Martinez to react any differently? After all, prizefighting is a primal instinct, and in a sport where quitting is considered a heinous crime, it is little wonder Martinez is struggling to come to terms with his physical decline. Unfortunately, in boxing you are not allowed to grow old gracefully, instead of a golden handshake and a pension you get a punch in the face by a fellow fighter who wants blood.
There is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide in a boxing ring, and for a fighter like Sergio Martinez who relies on leg movement and reflexes it looks like he has reached the end of the road.
As a massive fan of Martinez, it was a truly heartbreaking sight to see him head bowed, on the brink of tears, begging his trainer for ‘one more round’ against Miguel Cotto when it was blatantly obvious his body had long since abandoned him. In light of such a catastrophic loss, conventional logic says that Martinez must relinquish any thoughts of returning to a boxing ring.
But after suffering such a spirit crushing and humiliating defeat, can we really condemn such a proud warrior as Martinez for wanting to make a comeback so that he can finish his career on his own terms?
Most boxers wear the ability to take punishment like a badge of honour, and you can bet Sergio Martinez would rather endure more physical pain in the ring rather than live with the emotional torment of his surrender to Cotto in his retirement. The caveat is that if he does make an ill fated return to the ring, it doesn’t matter who his opponent is as the hands of time hit harder than any fighter he will face. Martinez will always be second best in his battle against the aging process, and that is why he must try and confront the brutal truth that his body has betrayed him and his boxing days are over.
It is up to his family members and management team to convince Sergio Martinez that he must move on with no regrets. He must not allow his resentment to replace reason, because people will remember him as fierce competitor and one of the finest middleweights of the modern era, not as the man who had to quit in his corner against Miguel Cotto.