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Home Boxing Nice Guys Have Finished Last, At Last
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Nice Guys Have Finished Last, At Last

shaun_george

Last night, two Light Heavyweight contenders squared off in what could have easily been a main event matchup in Philadelphia.  Shaun George was coming off a stoppage of Chris Byrd, while former world title challenger Chris Henry was trying to bounce back after two close losses.  After Geroge hurt Henry in the first round, he appeared to retreat, abandon the jab, and allow himself to be completely outworked.  It was as if the "air had gone out of him" as Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore wondered aloud.  As I have not heard any comment from George as to why he retreated and was eventually stopped in six ropudns by Henry, I will not speculate, but I wanted to comment on a sad irony.  Atlas questioned the heart and desire of George, saying he was 'a nice guy" who may have trouble getting into the right mentality for battle.  If this is true, then the timing of a recent tragedy is the perfect sad ending to an era. 
Last week we lost Alexis Arguello.  The 57-year old former three-division champion had battled depression for years, before taking his own life in Managua, Nicaragua.  There was probably not a better combination of nice guy outside of the ring and destroyer inside of it, than "The Explosive Thin Man".  There was a time when the gentleman boxer was the rule, rather than the exception.  Even people from the ghetto had class, and/or tried to convey some of it.  Nowadays, it seems that the bad-ass mentality is not only forgiven of athletes, it is expected.
It is not as if gentlemen don't exist in boxing anymore.  In recent years, we've have Kelly Pavlik, Lamon Brewster, Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Mesi, and the class shown by Eddie Chambers in both his trips to Germany was inspiration, and gave a new view of American fighters to fans in other countries.  I just find it sad that rather than worrying whether or not a fighter can turn off the "war" mentality after the fight is over, we are now concerned if the nice guy can become a destroyer in the ring.  Maybe a balance of calm aggression is the goal for which we should strive.  Confidence in yourself, and determination, combined with respect. 
The Chris Henrys and Joel Casamayors of the world should be the ones whose mentality we are questioning.  What makes you so insecure that you have to be a dirty fighter?  Even when you are winning?  While the nice guy may be prone to melancholy, and certainly needs to deal with that problem, ultimately the only victim therein is themselves.  It is these angry, war-like athletes that have the potential to hurt other people if they cannot leave it in the ring.  To me, this is the more worrysome mental problem for society to face.

 

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