Invest Well, Keep Career (Relatively) Short in Boxing
Many checks and balances should be in place before a professional boxing match is sanctioned. Athletic commissions are put in place to ensure that no fights that can put fighters in a potentially dangerous situation are sanctioned. Moreover, boxers should be realistic with themselves about what they accomplish.
And if older boxers can’t come to the conclusion themselves, they should have trainers, loved ones, and friends coming together to snap some sense into them. But Scot England, at 59, the “World’s oldest welterweight,” had none of that, according to the boxing news latest headlines.
England’s Fight Shouldn’t Have Been Sanctioned
England had no amateur boxing career to speak of. He worked as a radio DJ and anchor for television news, and wrote some country music. Despite England’s lack of credentials, he was sanctioned to fight 23-year-old professional Jashawn Hunter. Anyone who follows boxing can guess how the fight went.
Hunter quickly dropped England inside the first five seconds. While England did return to his feet, he would be hit with another flurry of punches before the bout was waived off at the 46-second mark. While England’s story is unique, many professionals fight well past their prime. While there are a few success stories, more often than not, it ends up ugly for everyone involved, according to online boxing news.
King George Climbs Back up the Mountain
George Foreman may be the greatest example of an older boxer still finding success late into his career. Foreman took ten years off following a loss to Jimmy Young in March 1977. But Foreman decided to return in 1987 at age 38 to help raise money for the youth center he founded.
Originally, Foreman set out to fight Mike Tyson. However, Foreman would never earn an opportunity to fight the explosive champion. But Foreman would earn a shot to fight for championships several times despite not regaining the same position in the rankings from his heyday in the 1970s. He lost his first two times, fighting for the title against Evander Holyfield and Tommy Morrison.
In 1995, Foreman got what many felt would be his last championship opportunity at age 45 against Michael Moorer. Foreman stunned the world by knocking Moorer out in the 10th round despite being behind on the scorecards. By capturing the IBF and WBA championships, Foreman became the oldest fighter to win a world title and the most prolonged interval between title reigns. He would have four more fights before finally retiring at 48 years old after a majority decision loss to Shannon Briggs.
Holyfield Gets Embarrassed
The social media age has produced an appetite for some boxing legends to come back for exhibition fights. Evander Holyfield may be the most egregious example of a fighter being taken advantage of. Vitor Belfort was supposed to fight Oscar De La Hoya in September 2021 in Miami, Fla.
However, De La Hoya pulled out due to a COVID-19 illness. Holyfield, who hadn’t fought since he wrapped up his professional career in 2011 with a TKO win over Brian Nielsen, stepped in on short notice to take De La Hoya’s place. Belfort would make quick work of the former heavyweight champion.
Holyfield, who didn’t appear to be moving well outside the ring, didn’t move quickly inside it either. Belfort, who made his name in mixed martial arts, would knock out Holyfield in the first round.
Larry Holmes Ended with a Circus Fight
Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes was still competitive in boxing well into his early 50s. Holmes fought for his last championship in 1997 at age 48 and lost a split decision to Nielsen for the IBO heavyweight championship. But the last fight Holmes was lured into was well below his competition level.
Eric Esch, better known as “Butterbean,” got Holmes to get back in the ring at age 53. Butterbean wasn’t a traditional boxer and mostly participated in small club fights that earned him the moniker the king of the four-rounders. Holmes and Esch went through all ten rounds, with Holmes winning a decision.
Like Foreman, boxing updates tonight show that Holmes took a break in the mid-80s following his title loss to Michael Spinks. Having a few years’ off helped both men’s bodies recover. However, Holmes would never end up recapturing a championship.
Hopkins Had to Be Thrown From the Ring to Stop
Bernard Hopkins has the record for being the world’s oldest champion. He was still the IBF light heavyweight champion at 49 years and 94 days old when he won a split decision over Beibut Shumenov. In December 2016, at age 51, Hopkins would have his final fight against Joe Smith Jr.
Hopkins was attempting to win the WBC International light heavyweight championship. He wouldn’t be able to turn back the clock against Smith, however. Smith would outbox Hopkins through much of the match before winning the fight in bizarre fashion in the eighth round.
Smith hit Hopkins with a flurry of punches that knocked Hopkins out of the ring. While the referee counted, Hopkins couldn’t climb back into the ring as he landed hard on his back on the arena floor. He injured his ankle and saw his final fight end with a knockout.
Boxing Late in Life Is Dangerous
There’s never a way to make boxing completely safe. Anyone who picks up the sport over 50 is advised to wear protective equipment and avoid sparring. Any professional fighter who takes on these risks increases their probability of brain damage and potentially suffering a fatal blow in the ring.
That’s why every fighter should avoid being surrounded by yes men. Having honest people in their corner can help them avoid any potentially dangerous situations. While some professionals have been able to fight past 50, many of their careers ended in heartbreaking circumstances. These men were still in pursuit of glory but ended up just taking beatings from younger men.
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