There he was, Ivan Robinson, former title contender, reduced to fighting six- and eight-round preliminary matches.
There he was, Ivan Robinson, two-time conqueror of Arturo Gatti, being TKOd by Mike Stewart, a kid he used to mentor in the gyms of Philadelphia.
Over and over again, Robinson asked himself, "What happened?"
The answer seems obvious. The same thing happens to most fighters eventually. They get old. They lose their focus, their desire to train, their skills and, ultimately, their fights.
At 34, he had won three times in 11 matches. Retirement seemed the only logical option.
Instead, Robinson will be center stage at Staples Center on Saturday night with a chance to prove reports of his demise premature. He will face Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez, with something to prove to himself at age 42.
Is Robinson in denial? No way, he insists. His problem hasn't been age but immaturity. He lost his way, he says, when he lost faith in his father, James, the man who first put gloves on him at age 5.
Now, after an ugly nine-year split, they are reunited.
"I am like an old rap star who is about to break into some sweet music," Ivan said.
Boxing had been his life. He was a child prodigy in Philadelphia. Ivan was bounced on the knee of Larry Holmes, taken under the wing of Joe Frazier and befriended by Bernard Hopkins.
By the time he was 10, Ivan was opening boxing shows around town, the cute little kid who would step into the ring to put on a shadow boxing demonstration or go a round or two with an older opponent before the big boys stepped in. With striking power for someone so small, Ivan soon became known around town as "Mighty Mouse."
This mouse was still roaring as he grew to manhood, turning into a slick professional who won his first 23 fights.
Then came the split, caused when Ivan got married and opted to break the close family bonds that had made him and his father such an effective team.
"I didn't want to hear what Dad had to say anymore," Ivan recalled.
So he enlisted the aid of a new trainer, Odell Cathay, got a shot at the International Boxing Federation lightweight title of Philip Holiday and proceeded to lose for the first time.
As the years went on, James became increasingly frustrated as he watched his son's struggles from afar.
"He's a boxer who needs to be on the outside," James said. "But they changed him to a puncher fighting on the inside where he might sometimes have trouble cracking an egg."
Ivan's frustrations were mounting as well.
"I have a wife and I have beautiful kids," Ivan said, "but I knew something was missing."
He knew what that something was, would have known it even if his friends hadn't continued to tell him to go back to his father. Finally, even his wife, Tanya, who wasn't close with the senior Robinson, told her husband to reconcile with his father.
The bond was repaired slowly. The two started talking and, soon, James returned to his son's camp, in the background at first.
Until he saw Ivan helpless against Stewart, his old punching bag from the gym. It was James who threw in the towel to stop that bout. Ivan subsequently threw in the towel with his new handlers, making his father his No. 1 trainer again.
Ivan is 1-1 since reuniting with his father.
"You reap what you sow," Ivan said. "My payback for leaving my dad was those losses. But we are back together again and now people are about to see things from me they have never seen before. I needed a push and now I've got it from my dad. From here on, if he tells me to jump off a cliff, that's what I'm going to do."