Time for Hitman to hang up his boxing gloves

2011-02-05 19:37

Distinguished South African boxer Cassius “Hitman” Baloyi is perhaps no exception to the athletes whose craving for immortality has jeopardised their beings.

This top athlete took a massive, daring and rather dangerous gamble when he took on a younger, inexperienced but sharper and hungrier Argenis Mendez at Emperors Palace eight days ago.

Had the battle-scarred Baloyi (36) beaten Mendez (24), he would have been one fight away from potentially becoming the most ­accomplished local fighter.

The Baloyi-Mendez battle was an International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior lightweight eliminator for Mzonke Fana’s crown.

Baloyi has the distinction of being the only South African to win six world titles and Mendez stood between the Limpopo boxer and immortality.

The thought of perhaps defying the proverbial writing already on the wall could have tempted Baloyi to become entangled in a self-destructive exploit.

The man who also used to go by the monicker “Shy Guy” no longer presents the images his name often conjured up
when he was on his way to becoming the country’s great. His performance and the devastating hammering he took from Fana, Malcolm Klassen, Phillip Ndou and Isaac Hlatshwayo showed his suicidal tendency in continuing to fight.

Mendez, like an uncut diamond, displayed shining qualities beneath a rough exterior, reinforcing that the mere mention of the South African’s name no longer sends a chill down the spines of adversaries.

The Dominican Republic fighter had Baloyi looking for the jab. It was not there, but rather a sneaky right uppercut.
Mendez would deceptively look low and ambush the South African high.

Baloyi did not necessarily absorb a severe pounding, but just showed flashes of the fire that once scorched the best boxers in the world. Compared to the polished Baloyi of yesteryear, the Limpopo fighter sleep-walked against Mendez.

The one-time fire-spitting Baloyi seemingly found fighting as difficult as attempting to eat with chopsticks.

To paraphrase the legendary Muhammad Ali, there were glimpses that he could still float like a bee, but the tragedy was that he virtually stung like one.

A perhaps misguided six-times world champion could have been encouraged by sentiments in the fight fraternity that he still has what it takes to continue fighting.

These grossly deluding thoughts could unfortunately not resuscitate a faded Baloyi, just as you cannot make a crab walk straight.

You do not need to have been watching the battle to know that Baloyi was on the ­receiving end. The evidence was the unassailable lead built by Mendez: 117-110; 117-110 and 117-111.

Baloyi said he would not hang up his gloves, missing an invaluable opportunity to quit while South Africa is still exhilarated by his matchless achievement.

Top athletes rarely know when it’s the right time to quit until it passes.

Numerous fighters in the history of boxing have made the blunder of continuing to campaign when they should have called it a day.

They include Ali “The Greatest”, a sportsman believed to have electrified sports more than any other.

Whirlwind junior welterweight Aaron ­Pryor, a man who could deliver punches with the speed of a lizard, also falls into this ­category.

Multiple world champion Sugar Ray Leonard also succumbed to the seemingly irresistible temptation to stay in the game longer than he should have.

One of the few fighters who did not succumb to the temptation of going on was “Marvellous” Marvin Hagler after suffering a disputed decision against Leonard.

Hagler, one-time undisputed middleweight champion, was so disgusted with the decision that he pledged not to continue fighting and stayed in retirement without making a comeback.

Hagler said that boxing was like a drug, ­explaining why fighters would engage in suicidal boxing escapades when they no longer had what it took to hang around.

Baloyi, who unquestionably towers over his compatriots, could be behaving like a ­miscreant who continues to soil his bed and ultimately suffocates in his own waste.

Please Mr Baloyi, quit while South Africa still cherishes your memory.

Relish it, savour every moment as though it were a vintage wine to sip.

“Hitman,” having covered some of your fights in the UK, I realise that you are losing a tug-of-war with a tiger; give the vicious animal the rope before it gets your arm.

If you do not retire, I will write an epitaph for you, reading: “Please stop counting, I am not getting up.”

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