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.

I would like to salute your iconic hero, Fidel, who took his peo­ple from the poverty and ig­no­rance of the Batista regime to a revered coun­try in to­day’s world, boast­ing some of the high­est lev­els of lit­er­acy and health care.

I salute your vi­sion­ary and coura­geous leader, Fidel, and the Cuban peo­ple who lib­er­ated An­gola and de­feated the South African army, which con­trib­uted to the dis­man­tling of Apartheid.

I salute Co­man­dante Fidel Cas­tro Ruz, a gift from God to hu­man­ity, who, in the lat­ter years of his pres­i­dency, granted re­li­gious free­dom to the Cuban peo­ple, al­low­ing them to wor­ship our heav­enly Fa­ther.

I salute Co­man­dante Fidel for his gen­uine love and re­spect for the poor, notwith­stand­ing his priv­i­leged up­bring­ing.

I thank and salute for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Michael Manley for his vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship, which gave me the op­por­tu­nity to not only study and live in Cuba, but also the hon­our of meet­ing this great Caribbean and Latin Amer­i­can hero.

Long live the ideals for which he fought and which he de­fended: peace, jus­tice, re­spect, hon­esty, kind­ness, ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to the ter­tiary level, First World health care, em­ploy­ment, care of the elderly and the phys­i­cally and men­tally chal­lenged. And above all, he did it with love.

Co­man­dante Fidel, your love for hu­man­ity is your en­dur­ing legacy, which will con­tinue to in­spire mil­lions world­wide.

Hasta siem­pre, Co­man­dante!

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.”


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.


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