There is an expiration date, no exceptions. Not as dramatic as death and taxes as life certainties go, but for athletes at that moment when it crashes to the inevitable, yet still not ready for end. It might seem as terminal as a final rating place.
However there is Rocky Marciano and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. as the standards of staying at the top without losing. But, but and but …all the rest of the great combatants, from Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre to Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones, Jr. ..lost.
Usually it’s age, that unbeatable foe. Sometimes it’s the surprise of facing the unknown, unprepared of being hit/really tagged for the first time.
In the combative world, each scenario has played out in a matter of days.
To the former there’s Vladimir Klitschko who finally had his remarkable reign stopped by Tyson Fury. For the first time in 11 years Klitschko is not the heavyweight champ of the world.
To the latter there’s Ronda Rousey who was unceremoniously dethroned as the greatest female MMA fighter by Holly Holm.
Fury said he was more fit and more prepared as he out boxed and meticulously wore down the seemingly invincible Klitschko. Perhaps the younger and colorful Fury was stronger as it appeared, or as his fans contend, Klitschko is approaching forty and with rare exceptions there are only so many rounds. The great champ was worn down. That might be, and if so Klitschko has amassed his quota and then some of resounding rounds in a legendary career.
It was different for Rousey. Still in her prime, with maybe the best still ahead. She was baffled by the boxing style of former ring champ Holm who mixed a staggering seventy percent striking rate with solid takedown defense. No one in MMA had experienced great punching and movement before. Rousey had no answer. She does have time to regroup, refocus, and study up on how to stand with a boxer before their rematch.
Klitschko can walk away a legacy etched in stone, whether he will is a prerogative he’s earned.
Rousey can’t leave this way, being dominated, and dazed. Great ones with youth still an ally don’t go out that way.
Separate scenarios from the squared circle to the cage, but a reminder that there always comes a time, as heartbreaking for loyal followers most often as the numbing reality of the athletes.
Of course there’s always that undeniably intriguing word after a defeat–REMATCH.
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