When should a boxer hang up the gloves?

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Roy Jones JrWhen should a boxer retire? Many will say that there is no way to tell unless you are the fighter. However, as we’ve seen throughout the 21st century, some of the world’s greatest athletes simply don’t know when to hang it up until it’s very clear that there is no other path.

Muhammad Ali, who is often described as the greatest boxer of all-time, was a far cry from his normal shade when he was obliterated by Larry Holmes, and beaten decisively by Trevor Berbick. Watching Ali-Holmes was like watching Oscar De La Hoya fight Manny Pacquiao on lower quality television. It was hard to believe Ali was ever a top fighter after that performance.

As I watched Roy Jones Jr. flatten Eric Watkins, I couldn’t help but have the same feeling. This is the same Roy Jones Jr. that sent shockwaves across the planet when he defeated John Ruiz to become the WBA World heavyweight champion in March 2003. He’s the only boxer to start as a light-middleweight and go on to win the heavyweight title.

The 46-year-old Jones didn’t just look old, but he looked like he could fall over at any moment, including during the victory celebration. If he’s serious about fighting again for a world title against any of the top cruiserweights, the commission has to look at his potential future outside of boxing, as well as Jones himself.

The victory over Watkins comes around the same time as two other 46-year-olds had subpar performances. Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver, who both knocked out Jones in 2004, didn’t fare well either.

Johnson lost a unanimous decision to the unknown Avni Yildirim, and Tarver fought to a draw in a lethargic performance against Steve Cunningham.

All of these guys something in common. They all think they are still good enough to face the best of the best, which is just asinine. Some of you may know the story of Angel Manfredy.

Manfredy is a former boxer who had four opportunities to be a world champion and lost all four tries, including a second-round TKO defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 1998.

The sport has been good to Manfredy, but his life after boxing has been interesting to say the least. His Facebook is now deactivated and for good reason. For the entire time I was friends with the guy, it seemed like he would always call out Mayweather for a rematch – and he sounded positive as if he would do any better than he did in 1998.

Then, things started to get really weird. He was constantly getting harassed and getting made fun of, which eventually led him to make personal attacks not only against the people harassing him, but even his own spouse.

The sport of boxing can be a blessing, but it can turn those hard-earned dollars into permanent medical bills if you don’t take care of yourself. Just look at Jermain Taylor. He went from one of boxing’s brightest stars to a complete basket case in a span of a couple fights.

Age finally struck Bernard Hopkins and time will tell if he decides to fight again.

Fight Hype caught up with Floyd Mayweather earlier this week where he implied that Roger Mayweather is suffering from early Alzheimer’s disease and that it could have a major influence on whether he remains in the sport or not following the fight.

“My uncle Roger Mayweather has lost a lot of memory from the sport of boxing. It’s sad,” said Mayweather. “He’s only in his 50s, but it seems like he’s an old man that’s in his 80s from the sport of boxing.”

This is an exciting sport for us fans and the people that cover it, but often times for the fighters – they are putting everything on the line – whether it be because of where they grew up, where they came from, or if they made some mistakes in the past and wanted a second chance at life.

Boxing teaches a lot of lessons about life. Life is short and we should know when enough is enough while appreciating all that we have.