‘The boxer is the first to know, but the last to admit it.’ How the sport’s finest reached their last fight

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.

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