Re: Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran
I think there's no greater test of character in a boxing ring than prolonged infighting. It depletes your physical and mental reserves -- and when two fighters do it well, some of it is involuntary, like a mutual stranglehold, which is the greatest attack on your primal instincts. It hurts, it keeps hurting, you're so tired, you still have so long to go until the final bell, you're never gonna win -- and now you, momentarily at some point during the bout, are unable to keep your opponent off. You are trapped, on the ropes, you swing hard and miss, you can't find him, can't block or parry, you're just taking it.
That moment -- and Leonard had several of them -- is a great time to fold. To wilt under the pressure, the pressure of the opponent and the pressure of the expectations upon you, the very expectations you are betraying. You are disappointing in there, in their eyes. If only those nitwits knew what it was to be where you are, how difficult and taxing this is.
Leonard endured, broke the barrier, and until the end fought to win. When Duran let up in the last third of the fight, he still had the mental strength after all that to step in and actually spearhead the fight. The kid was twenty-four years old. Some people are just born a warrior.
To this day, it's my favorite Ray Leonard fight, with Hearns at second. He showed the depth of his heart here. I sincerely believe he would have gone for rounds six- and seventeen would it have been possible, and considering his opponent was the best Duran fighting the perfect fight, that perhaps says most of all.