PEDRO FERNANDEZ: 32 YEARS SINCE ROBERTO DURAN BEAT RAY LEONARD

Pedro Fernandez/RINGTALK

GREATEST FIGHT OF THE DECADE

San Francisco, CA- They called it, “The Brawl In Montreal,” Roberto Duran, ex-lightweight (135 lbs) king taking on boxing’s glamor boy “Sugar Ray” Leonard on June 20, 1980. In the three decades and two years that have passed since, I can’t remember a more captivating evening of watching professional boxing. Duran, who turned 61 on June 16, in the “prime” of his career was a man that would not be denied that cold night in Montreal, the site of the 1976 Olympics where Ray Leonard became the darling of boxing.

GREATEST FIGHT OF THE DECADE?

I had seen most of the major fights in the 1980s sitting ringside, but for this event we were at the Cow Palace in Daly City, CA watching Duran school Leonard on Closed Circuit TV. It was an epic event, Ray coming in the betting favorite and Duran rocking him in the second round with such force from a left hook thrown in combination, that Leonard’s brain trust, Mike Trainer, a Washington DC area attorney told me later. “At that point, I knew Ray wasn’t going to win. So I lit up a cigarette, sat back and hoped that he would not get hurt.” Of all the fights I saw in the decade, this is still the one that stands out for me!

LEONARD ATE RIGHT HAND LEADS LIKE CHEERIOS!

Duran, the shorter of the two, timed Leonard, something nobody had ever done before professionally. When Leonard would jab, Duran would would either counter or lead with bone-crunching right hands from the third round on. Leonard had a few moments, this when Duran lapsed into a state of relaxation because of his dominance. But each time Leonard would flurry, Duran would answer back with ferocity that Leonard thought going into the fight was all hype!

DURAN WON 10-4-1 ON MY CARD

Hurting Leonard with those right hand leads throughout, Ray could never solve the puzzle as to how to avoid them. Never hurt, although Ray Leonard connected solidly on occasion, Duran smiled and sneered at Ray, not displaying one ounce of respect for the defending WBC welterweight (147) champion. Leonard had beaten Wilfred Benitez for the title in November 1979 in a fight that made Las Vegas’ premier boxing handicapper Herbie Lambeck hate referee Carlos Padilla for life! Herbie had gotten good odds on the fight going the full 15 rounds, thus dropping $20,000. When the referee waved the fight off with just a few seconds left, this with Benitez on his feet, Herb blew a cork he could never ever put back in the bottle.

READ FULL ARTICLE AT RINGTALK.


Mr. Fernandez is an award-winning writer, TV commentator, radio talk show host, former San Francisco Policeman and four-time Golden Gloves champion.

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~ by Rafael Martel on June 20, 2012.

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