There should be no shame in a fighter quitting when he knows he is beaten. The ethos of a fighter hanging on for as long as he can, until he is finally dragged out on his shield, leads to long-term problems like dementia and Parkinson’s. I like to see two evenly matched athletes face off. Once it becomes obvious that the two are not evenly matched, having one man stick around simply to absorb more punishment borders on sadistic.
Prizefighting is a blood sport and there are fans who watch merely to see the claret flow. But even for those of us who exalt in the craftsmanship and artistry of the Sweet Science, the blood adds drama. And though we may not want to see a beaten man further abused, we cannot deny that there is something uplifting and heroic in the spectacle of a battered man hanging tough, just to see if he can turn things around with a miracle.
So when a fighter quits the way Nicholas Walters did last Saturday night, against Vasyl Lomachenko, it can leave even the most sympathetic fan shaking his head. To be clear, Walters looked thoroughly over-matched by the Ukrainian sensation. And during the final, Round 7, Lomachenko landed some very crisp scoring combinations.
But Walters was nowhere near the place most fighters have to get before they are willing to quit. His face showed little indication of abuse. He was clearly trailing on all the cards, but you would expect a fighter with his record of knockouts to believe in his ability to come back and land a big punch.
It speaks to how great Lomachenko is as a technician, that he could so thoroughly frustrate an undefeated, former world champion. The southpaw Lomachenko did not let Walters get into position to throw his big right hand once during the entire fight.
I consider Walters an exciting fighter and won’t hold this against him. I will still be interested in seeing him in another well-matched fight. But it is hard not to think he damaged his career, losing like this. Walters’ willingness to throw in the towel when he clearly had so much less stands in sharp contrast to his two biggest stoppages, over Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire.
Both Donaire and Darchinyan were much older, smaller fighters, who kept battling even after it had become obvious that they were over-matched by Walters. Both men fought as long as humanly possible.
Right or wrong, that is the standard expected by world-class fighters. Walters failed it on Saturday night.