Du­ran, Sugar Ray, and Ax­e­man’s sur­ren­der

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Orville Hig­gins is a sports­caster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

IN NOVEM­BER 1980, I was a mere child, but that box­ing match be­tween Roberto Du­ran and Sugar Ray Leonard, when Du­ran was re­ported to say, “No más, no más” (Span­ish for no more, no more), will stay with me al­ways. Those were the golden days of box­ing, and I can still re­mem­ber the le­gions of peo­ple packed in my liv­ing room in West­more­land.

In­ter­est­ingly, Du­ran him­self claims that he never said any such words. He has been quoted as say­ing he was mum­bling to him­self, “No sigo, no sigo,” which roughly trans­lates to “I am not go­ing any fur­ther”. He claims it was leg­endary broad­caster Howard Cosell who came up with the term “no más, no más.” In­ter­est­ingly, I have read where Du­ran said what he said was “no peleo,” mean­ing “I won’t fight.” As an aside, it doesn’t seem to me to make much dif­fer­ence be­tween “no más” and “no sigo” and “no peleo.’’ The man quit, mum­bling some­thing to the ef­fect that he didn’t want to con­tinue. That is clear.

Du­ran had quit at the end of the eighth round, turn­ing his back on Leonard and wav­ing his glove to ref­eree Oc­tavio Meyran that he had had enough. It was a sur­pris­ing end to what was a keenly con­tested fight. In­ter­est­ingly, if you look back at the scores on the fight card up to the point where Du­ran quit, Leonard was lead­ing by ra­zor-thin mar­gins, 68-66, 68-66 and 67-66, on the scorecard of the three judges. Leonard was ahead, but only just. Maybe it wasn’t the mere blows that got to Du­ran. At one point in the sev­enth round, Sugar Ray was openly show­boat­ing and taunt­ing Du­ran, wheel­ing his right hand, and gen­er­ally be­hav­ing as if this was mere fun. Maybe Du­ran’s pride was hurt just as much as his body.

What is sig­nif­i­cant is what Du­ran said af­ter the fight. The fight was, of course, the sec­ond of three meet­ings be­tween the two. Du­ran had beaten Leonard by unan­i­mous de­ci­sion to cap­ture the wel­ter­weight crown, and the re­match was arranged as the pub­lic ap­par­ently wanted more. Du­ran, in an in­ter­view ear­lier this year, said: “I beat Leonard and then I got re­ally fat. I had to lose too much weight. I got cramps. I didn’t have strength for any­thing ... Eleta (his man­ager) was sup­posed to give me way, way more time to pre­pare my­self the right way. I was too fat.”

NOT COM­PLI­MEN­TARY

Ja­maica’s Ni­cholas Wal­ters was born in Jan­uary 1986, which means that the fa­mous “no más” fight took place six years be­fore he was even born, and yet there is an eerie sim­i­lar­ity with his fight against Va­syl Lo­machenko on Satur­day and that Leonard-Du­ran clas­sic. In both cases, Du­ran and the Ax­e­man had is­sues mak­ing the weight, and in both cases, they ar­gued that they needed more time to pre­pare. Ax­e­man called it quits be­fore the eighth. Du­ran had started the eighth and couldn’t fin­ish. His­tory has joined both Du­ran and Wal­ters in a way that is not com­pli­men­tary to both.

Box­ing ex­perts did ask if Du­ran was ready for that re­match with Sugar Ray, the same ques­tions that are be­ing asked now.

A for­mer fourth division world cham­pion summed it up: “This boy ain’t fought in 342 days and you put him in the big­gest fight of his life. And he is crazy be­cause at first he said it wouldn’t bother him. But you can’t say that it wont bother you but then use it as an ex­cuse when it does hap­pen.”

Ni­cholas Wal­ters, who, prior to now, was seen as a brash, con­fi­dent, toughtalk­ing Ja­maican has lost face here. I heard Leroy Brown on ra­dio say­ing that he will vir­tu­ally have to restart his ca­reer. Jones him­self said, “He has lost a lot of cred­i­bil­ity by quit­ting ... ; peo­ple are not lis­ten­ing to what he is say­ing.”

Du­ran him­self did man­age to make some sort of a come­back af­ter the “no más” fight. He schooled then WBA cham­pion Davey Moore in 1983 to take the ti­tle and re­stored some of the pride he lost three years ear­lier. He did lose to both Marvin Ha­gler and Sugar Ray af­ter, and al­though he lost both fights, they did go the dis­tance, and he did get to re­cover some of his rep­u­ta­tion. In 2002, Du­ran was voted by the Ring Magazine as the fifth-great­est fighter of the last 80 years.

Ni­cholas Wal­ters, there­fore, is not fin­ished. He can come back. It will not be easy, but if he is as de­ter­mined as I know he can be, he can re-earn the re­spect he once had. Af­ter all, his ring record is still im­pres­sive. He has lost only once. It would be tragic if this is how he is re­mem­bered. For his sake, I hope he makes a ster­ling come­back.

FILE

Va­syl Lo­machenko (left) of Ukraine pound­ing Ni­cholas Wal­ters of Ja­maica in a WBO ju­nior light­weight ti­tle box­ing match on Satur­day in Las Ve­gas.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.