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Most boxers, even those lucky enough to go out on a win, fight past their peaks as their bodies and minds plead for them to stop. Elliot Worsell investigates
FAIRYTALE FINISH: Froch prepares to knock out George Groves in their rematch



HE knew it was the end before it had even begun. He knew it was the end because it felt different to the beginning, and the middle, and how it felt last week. Gone was the 21-year-old who won the world title a decade earlier. Gone, too, was the 31-year-old who had recently been hitting times and heights of old in training, convincing himself his next opponent was tailor-made for him.

Now struck by a feeling too unusual and strong to ignore, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, moments before battle, chose not to. He turned to his assistant trainer, Ted Fagan, in their changing room and outed himself, first as doubtful, then prematurely retired. He told Fagan he didn’t want to be there anymore. He told him he didn’t want to do it – fight, pretend – anymore.

“What?” said Fagan, incredulous.

Mancini, the former WBA lightweight champion, repeated his sin.

“It’s a hell of a time to tell me, ain’t it?”

Though he yearned to either stay put or escape, Mancini made it to the ring that night, just as he had done 33 times before, and prepared for the pain that was to follow. It wasn’t a fight he was walking into; it was the most predictable and necessary of defeats. He was finished, he knew that much, but only when finished in the ring would it stop.

“I can remember and tell you things from fights 30 years ago, but I can’t tell you anything about the walk to the ring the night I fought Greg Haugen,” Mancini said. “It’s all a blur. It’s not like I don’t want to remember it. I just can’t.”

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MOVERS AND SHAKERS – Your indispensable guide to an irresistible heavyweight division THE LAST TO ADMIT IT – Fighters relive the moments they knew they had to call it a day EMPIRE STATE OF MIND – How Richard Commey has turned his career around in NYC MUCH, MUCH MORE – Including the Charlo twins, Kal Yafai and the Hall of Fame weekend