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Wednesday July 26th 2017
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Soklin’s Corner: Its time to say Goodbye. Thanks for the Memories.

Watching an old, washed-up, past his prime, over the hill, has been, Tony Soprano get his ass kicked by an overweight Bobby Bacala on last Sunday’s of Sopranos got me thinking. I started thinking about how sad it is when a famous, larger than life figure is clearly past his prime but keeps insisting on doing things his own way. The list is long and distinguished.

Tony.jpgTony Soprano, George Foreman before the grill, Evander Holyfield still, Willie Mays as a Met, Michael Jordan as a Wizard, Hulk Hogan as a bad guy, Andrew Dice Clay, Johnny Unitas as a Charger, Don Imus, Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, Steven Seagal, season 6 Jack Bauer, the Rolling Stones, Joe Namath as a Ram, and Emmitt Smith as a Cardinal before his dancing career took off. There are a countless number of athletes, celebrities, politicians, personalities, or anyone else in the public eye that should have hung it up well before they did. I was thinking about this; how do you tell an athlete or anyone in the spotlight that their time is up? The number of guys in boxing who have stuck around longer than they should include Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Jr., Fernando Vargas and many others, but now after last Saturday night maybe Diego Corrales can be added to that list.
Roy Jones, Jr. obviously had a long and distinguished career and for many years was considered the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. In an interview with FOX in 1999, Bob Arum of Top Rank proclaimed, “Roy Jones Jr. is the best fighter or warrior on the planet, no one is even close.” Fairly high esteem for a man whose words carry weight with such a topic. Jones had success at all levels including Golden Gloves, Olympics and Professional. Jones has notable career wins against Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, John Ruiz and Antonio Tarver. In 2003, Jones became the first ever middleweight champion to win a heavyweight title. In 2004, against Antonio Tarver, Jones should have seen the writing on the wall. He should have seen that he had lost a step and had lost the punching speed he once possessed.royjonesjr.jpg He was sent to the canvas by Tarver for the first time in his career, and could not get up. Jones went onto a stunning loss to Glen Johnson followed by another loss to Tarver, it was over. Even Jones must have known at that point. Although enduring a three fight losing streak, Jones entered the ring again this time he defeated Prince Badi. If Jones had not had a fallout with HBO maybe we as fans would not have to endure Lennox Lewis on commentary, instead Jones is probably looking somewhere for another fight.
Another former champion looking for another fight is Evander Holyfield. Everyone knows the story about Evander Holyfield. No matter how much physical damage he endures he keeps looking for another fight. No matter how slow his footwork is or his punching prowess has become he keeps looking for another fight. No matter how many states wisely refuse to grant a license to one of the great champions of all time he keeps looking for another fight. Risk or permanent injury be damned. Risk of tarnishing a great legacy be damned. Holyfield will fight anyone anywhere, as long as the state will grant him a license, which does not leave the Real Deal with many other options. Holyfield’s career accomplishments cannot be called into question. His decision making in the last few years can be. Holyfield’s desire to be the oldest heavyweight champion of all time is admirable. I am no doctor but his return to the ring can not be a smart move. As impressive as beating Vinny Madalone is, (sarcasm), Holyfield was a great champion. But, unfortunately his time in the sun has passed, probably a long time ago.
“Ferocious” Fernando Vargas encompasses everything that represents a traditional Mexican boxer; Heart, Courage, and a never quit attitude. He is one of the few to have recorded a victory over Winky Wright. At age 29, Vargas has been in some of the most memorable bouts in recent memory. His war inside and outside of the ring with Oscar De la Hoya will be remembered and written about forever in boxing history books. vargas_mosley_lefteye_shut.jpgUnfortunately, he has been the victim of four of the most devastating losses in recent boxing history. His bouts with Oscar, Felix “Tito” Trinidad, and Shane Mosley all ended with spectacular Knockouts. There is no doubt that his in-ring wars have done a severe amount of damage to him physically.
There is no way to tell a champion with the heart and courage of a Roy Jones, Jr. or an Evander Holyfield or Fernando Vargas or any of my many examples above when it is time to retire. A champion has to believe they can always compete. There has to be a time when it is unsafe for some to continue, especially in a sport as dangerous as boxing. As an outsider it is easier for me to comment on when another man should retire. It would obviously be much tougher for them to walk away from something they love. Maybe Tiki Barber, Barry Sanders and Rocky Marciano had the right idea.
touchgloves.com Honorable Mentions:
Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales – He has thrilled fans for years with his blood and guts style. He has been involved in two of the greatest boxing trilogies of all time. He has established himself as one the greatest Mexican boxers of our generation. It is time for Erik to enjoy the rest of his days with his family.

Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales
– Much like Vargas, Diego is a true warrior. Round 10 of his fight with Jose Luis Castillo is the greatest round in Boxing History. However, the battles in the ring have caught up with him, as was clearly evident against Joshua Clottey. We cannot stand to see him spit another mouth piece.
Anyone else have anyone that they would like to see retire before it is too late? Post below.
Jeff Soklin is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and is currently involved in the field of sport management. Email him at jeff@touchgloves.com


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