By Clive Bernath:
It never ceases to amaze me that a fighter does not know when to retire. I wish I had a pound for every time a boxer had told me that they would know ‘when to quit’ and then contradicting themselves by continuing to fight on when everyone knows apart from themselves that their best days are firmly behind them.
On Saturday night at the Plymouth Pavilions, former British and IBO lightweight champion Michael ‘Shaka’ Ayers was unfortunately a perfect example of a boxer carrying on for far too long, when he was comprehensively beaten on points by unheralded Basingstoke southpaw Jon Honney.
The 38 year-old Ayers was returning to the ring for the first time following a one-sided 12 round beating at the hands of Pablo Sarmiento 20 months earlier. Ayers had stopped the Argentine fighter in six rounds two year ago but was systematically broken down on the way to a lopsided defeat in the return. It was not that Sarmiento had improved at all. It was just that the Londoner’s skills had understandably eroded at the end of a fine career that had seen him win memorable battles against domestic opposition including Colin Dunne and Wayne Rigby (twice).
It was sad to see the once lightning fast puncher, continually out-fought in every department by a fighter that could only boast a 5-9-(0) record, going into the fight. I had heard a couple of days before that Honney was so confident of beating Ayers that he even went into the fight with a damaged nose.
What makes Ayer’s comeback all the more sad is the fact that even after being so easily out-boxed by a fighter that is ranked at No. 21 in the SecondsOut UK ratings, that he plans to fight on in the hope of somehow recovering the form that made him one of the most feared lightweights in Europe for nearly a decade.
‘The fighter is always the last to know when to quit’ is probably the best known and extensively used line in boxing. It is widely overused throughout the trade but in Ayers’s case, unfortunately that clich is entirely appropriate.
Editor Clive Bernath can be reached at clive.Bernathclive.Bernathsecondsout.com
July 28, 2003