Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Starring Sugar Ray Leonard,
Roberto Duran

Fascinating documentary from ESPN on one of the greatest rivalries in sports.
Freely available on YouTube, No Mas details the two 1980 welterweight title matches between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.
In their first match, “The Brawl in Montreal,” Leonard went in undefeated, and lost on a close decision to Duran. Five months later, in a rematch in New Orleans, Duran quit the fight in the eighth round. Why Duran suddenly said, “No mas” has been a mystery that boxing fans have pondered ever since.
According to director Eric Drath, “The No Mas fight will always be in boxing circles the most talked-about fight of all time.” Bit of an overstatement, perhaps. The rematch between heavyweights Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, the “Battle of the Long Count,” is right up there, too.
Not in dispute is Leonard’s desire at the start of the film for closure. “I want to know firsthand—I think the world wants to know—what the hell happened that night in the ring in New Orleans.”
Before we see the champ fly down to Panama City, Panama, with the express purpose of getting “Roberto to step up to the plate and to admit once and for all what actually happened,” we travel back to the late-‘70s to get a sense of who the fighters were, and what boxing meant at that time.
The colossal popularity of Mohammed Ali, the movie Rocky, and the 1976 Olympics all contributed to an atmosphere that made a title fight a big event. But whereas Leonard—who took the name Sugar Ray in honor of Sugar Ray Robinson—was perceived as boxing’s Golden Boy, Duran was emphatically not. According to Leonard, “I’ve never fought anyone who was so…just nasty and angry.” 
It wasn’t hype. They really didn’t like each other.
 “Leonard felt he was God Himself,” says Duran. “I felt rage toward Leonard. I didn’t want to just win, I really wanted to break him into pieces.”
On June 20, 1980, he got his first chance. That night in Montreal, Leonard learned why Roberto Duran was called “Hands of Stone.”
 “His fists were like rocks,” Leonard says. “The minute he hit me, he hurt me.”
Boxing scholar Mike Tyson credits Leonard and Duran for inspiring him, recalling also an article where Joe Frazier said that Duran reminded him of Charles Manson. “He’s a defensive marvel,” says Tyson. “He’s a master, he does everything, there’s nothin’ that he doesn’t use.”
After the decision, Panama City loved Duran. For five months he could do no wrong.  And in that time, Duran partied. In a short time, he ballooned up to nearly two hundred pounds. A fact on which a despondent Leonard was quick to capitalize.
Having made the mistake of not boxing Duran, of letting Duran get inside his head and going instead toe-to-toe, Leonard called for a rematch. Unable to turn down the huge payday at that time of ten million dollars, Duran dropped the weight too fast. He also faced an opponent adept at turning the table with taunts of his own. 

 Stewart Kirby writes for

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