It's rare for a boxer to willingly retire. The list is long and illustrious of once great champions who hung on far too long.
Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Jake LaMotta all hung on way too long, and the list goes on and on.
I'm not sure why fighters continue to hold on well past their prime. It's most likely a mixture of financial needs and ego.
Also, it's all most of them know. Once that's taken, a part of their identity is stripped.
The aspect of boxing that's so sad, and part of the sport, is that hanging on too long can literally cause brain damage. When older fighters lose their reflexes, they just start getting hit a lot with shots they would have avoided. It's a very, very tragic thing to witness a punch-drunk fighter.
Below is a list of five fighters who should retire right now, but probably won't.
The "Hit Man" is one of the most entertaining fighters of the past 10 years. His following amongst the British working class is legendary.
Sadly, Hatton is a shadow of the fighter he once was. His devastating loss to Manny Pacquiao has left a sour taste in the mouths of many of his fans (I'd be sour if I'd flown over the Atlantic and forked over all that money for a second round knockout). Perhaps his habit of putting on 50 pounds of fat between fights is coming back to haunt him.
Undoubtedly Hatton will stay in the game, but he won't be the presence he was.
Juan Manuel Marquez
At 36, it's time for Marquez to hang up his gloves. He is, and was, a valiant warrior. But against Floyd Mayweather, he didn't look like his normal self. He wasn't as aggressive and didn't go to the body like I thought he would.
Some people will chalk that up to Mayweather's defense; fair enough. I just think Marquez has been through some vicious battles that have sapped his spirit and strength.
What a meteoric fall from grace for Taylor. Just three years ago he was being touted as one of the new faces of boxing after two wins over Bernard Hopkins. An unexpected loss to Kelly Pavlik in September 2007 seemed to shake his confidence. A follow-up loss to Pavlik seemed to spin him into a free fall.
He hasn't looked good in two recent losses to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham. I just can't see a scenario where Taylor regains his confidence and is much of a factor.
Roy Jones Jr.
Back in 2005, Jones had three straight losses against Antonio Tarver (twice) and Glen Johnson. The cries started for his retirement. Phoenix-like, he returned in style with three straight wins, punctuated by a beatdown on Felix Trinidad.
A loss to Joe Calzaghe was more due to the skills of Calzaghe rather than the lack of skills of Jones Jr. Calzaghe was just the better fighter.
With two subsequent wins against the journeyman Omar Sheika and the war-torn Jeff Lacy, Jones Jr. looked ready for a rematch against Bernard Hopkins. Sadly, he couldn't handle Danny Green, a fighter he would have destroyed five years ago.
Marco Antonio Barrera
At 35, he's at an age when most fighters should consider retirement. He has three losses in his last five fights, the last against Amir Khan. Again, Barrera has been through so many wars, I think his body just broke down.
Honorable Mention: Evander Holyfield
I haven't heard officially that Holyfield has retired (he hasn't fought in over a year). It wouldn't surprise me to see him lace up the gloves again. This once proud warrior should have retired about nine years ago. Sadly, he's lost five of his last nine fights, and his record is a pedestrian 6-7-2 since 1999. His loss to Lennox Lewis seemed to signal his downfall.