Re: What makes a tough fighter...?
I don't wanna try to assign a credible number to KO's from which the boxer might recover vs. those that are beyond the point of recovery - as an amateur boxer I was never knocked out, but I had my cage rattled a few times.
But I can assure you, based on talking with boxers who'd been knocked out (including my brother, a slick boxer but he had a glass jaw), you can't judge by the way a fellow moves his eyes. Some KO's are neural disconnects from the neck down. The fighter is perfectly conscious and aware of what's going on, but he's temporarily paralyzed and simply cannot get up; or he may not be able to regain control quickly enough to assure the referee that it's safe to continue. I think this is what happens sometimes with boxers who argue that they were okay and the fight shouldn't have been stopped. The lights were on and the guy was at home, but he couldn't get out the door.
And then there were the kinda KO's my brother experienced - he never remembered a thing. That's how Joe Louis described his first fight with Schmeling - after a certain point he'd taken so many right hands he couldn't remember the rest of the fight. He was on autopilot until it was finally stopped.
And you can bet your ass that if Qawi could have gotten up in the rematch against Holyfield, he would have. Dwight was a tough, proud SOB. But he got clocked by a classic short right hand that he never saw coming. His eyes were open, he even seemed to be grinning (a typical Qawi reaction to hard punches), and he was struggling to get up. But he was long gone.
Nowadays I'm beginning to wonder whether there are more referees who don't want a fight to go on than fighters who want to quit. Some refs seem to jump the gun too often. We need tougher referees, more Arthur Mercantes and Carlos Padillas, Zach Claytons, guys who knew how to let guys fight while protecting them from serious injury. I'm sick of these "third men in the ring" who make themselves the stars.