Falk: A fight fan's confession
The first diagnosis came before Timothy Bradley even left the ring.
The fighter made it himself.
"I'm still dizzy," Bradley told HBO's Max Kellerman back in March, after going 12 brutal rounds and earning a decision over Ruslan Provodnikov in a slugfest that would help make both men strange heroes in the tiny corner of the world that considers such violence noble.
Provodnikov, the Russian welterweight, landed a big right early in the match that nearly dropped his opponent to the ground. But Bradley stayed up, kept absorbing abuse, and somehow, kept doling out punches of his own even when his eyes looked to be somewhere else entirely.
This is bloodsport, no doubt.
Last December, Juan Manuel Marquez caught Manny Pacquiao with a right hand to the chin that left the former champion unresponsive on the mat for a minute or two. Grown men cheered at the grotesque sight.
That's the kind of thing that can happen in the ring. That's why Bradley told reporters this as he prepared for his fight against Marquez on Saturday: "If you beat me, you're going to have to take me out on a stretcher."
Tough words from a very tough guy.
Fighters often refer to themselves as warriors, pride themselves on the abuse they must endure to achieve glory.
But when we know so much about the price of that glory, how can it be justified?
Is the triumph of a raised hand so great?
Is the bounty a fighter collects at the cost of his own well being worth it?
Each fighter has a choice. As do the football players who put themselves in harm's way risking health both now and in the future Â each time they strap on their helmets.
But we, the spectators, share in the blame.
On the side of the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip, Floyd Mayweather's image hangs for all to see. The casino is the home of the champion, the banner brags, the man they call "Money."
That last part is certainly our fault: the Pay-Per-View dollars and the ticket sales.
And I'm guilty too.
I'd like to consider myself among the enlightened, but on Saturday night I still sat in the dark of a Las Vegas arena, and cheered as two men bludgeoned each other for my cheers and my money.
This is a confession.