ROBERTO DURAN-PIPINO CUEVAS MEMORABLE CLASH

January 21st, 2014 By Pedro Fernandez

Roberto Duran-Pipino Cuevas

Roberto Duran-Pipino Cuevas

NEVER FORGOT “SMELL” OF MAIN ST. GYM

San Francisco, CA- Having been hanging around Los Angeles and the now razed Main St. Gym (original location) for a few days prior to the Roberto Duran-Pipino Cuevas fight at the Los Angeles Sports Arena set for January 29, 1983, the excitement was incredible pre-fight. The animosity between the Panamanian icon and the Mexican butcher who had went 12-1 in WBA welterweight (147 lb.) title fights was real. Cuevas had been tested and nearly bested by Randy Shields, the lone man to go the route with the Mexican fighter who again, looked so easy to beat.

PIPINO LOOKED AS EASY TO BEAT AS LIMON!

As an active amateur who had pummeled Bazooka Limoon in a sparring session, I knew punching from different angles and hand speed would befuddle the soon to defend WBC 130 lb. champion and that was the way to beat Pipino. Scheduled for four fistic frames, Limon’s people brought him in looking for southpaw sparring and not the basket full of knuckle sandwiches he was force fed, thus they pulled the plug after two with Limon never landing a telling blow.

POWER OF THE CUEVAS LEFT HOOK INCREDIBLE!

You look at Cuevas on TV and you say he’s an easy mark. Harold Weston, Angel Espada, Clyde Gray, the capable Harold Volbrecht, they all thought the same and ended up getting drilled by that oh-so predictable Cuevas left hook. In Weston’s case, the former Madison Square Garden matchmaker, a slick boxer was TKO’d in 9 rounds after suffering a broken jaw. His power, a good chin, and endurance were his strengths with only Tommy Hearns having laid out Cuevas and ending his championship run in 1980.

DURAN THE FAVORITE IN MEXICAN DOMINATED CROWD


Still trying toi rid himself of the “No Mas” stench that he acquired after the second Ray Leonard fight, Roberto was the guy who had all the pressure on him. With both men training at the Main St. Gym, where I saw legendary boxing people like Benny Georgino and Harry Kabakoff, Duran had that “possessed” look. But one could no longer rely on the sneer, the intimidation Duran was none for, not after he was handled by Wilfred Benitez one year prior.

WEIGH IN WHEN WEIGH INS WERE LESS FORMAL

Duran scaled a relatively solid 152 lbs., while Cuevas checked into that samne day weight in at 149 even.

FIGHT WAS DECIDED BY THE CUEVAS LEFT HOOK!

It was apparent who was imposing their will from the start as Duran was being aggressive and Cuevas, who looked a little perplexed by Duran’s hand speed and head movement, was looking to land his “money” punch, aka that left hook on Duran’s chin. In round four, Pipino landed his best shot and Duran, like Marvin Hagler when he was on the receiving end of a Tommy Hearns right hand, Duran just sort of looked at Cuevas, paused a for a second and then went on to stop Cuevas later in round four when referee James Jen Kin ended matters.

PARTY IN EAST LOS ANGELES AFTERWARDS!

We all ended up at a corner house in an L.A. barrio. Getting there just prior to the victorious Duran, one of the most memorable sights I’ve even seen was when Duran exited the white SUV and kissed the ground before entering the house. With the pressure off of Duran’s shoulders, we never once heard the name of Duran’s next foe and WBA novice 154 lb. champ in the late Davey Moore.

CAKE, BEER, CHAMPAGNE, GOOD PEOPLE & MEMORIES!

With my best friend Hector Martinez, Duran’s future co-manager at my side, we had a good time until we returned to our hotel circa 3 AM. It was a glorious night of boxing, Duran-Cuevas, former late heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry being the TV analyst, Dr. Jen Kin the referee, ex-pug and actor Tony Danza was present, the near capacity crowd was hot. In closingm January 29, 1983 was a great night for the sport and business of boxing in good old El Lay.

Pedro Fernandez

COMMENTS

  1. This shows how great Duran was. At the time, it looked as though his best days were behind him as he had lost to Wilfred Benitez and then Kirkland Laing. Also, he didn’t look that outstanding in outpointing Jimmy Batten. Cuevas had lost to Hearns and then to Roger Stafford since Summer of ’80. During his reign, he looked very hard to beat, and he could punch like an S.O.B. After Pete Ranzany lost to him, many people would say that Ranzany may have been able to beat him if he had boxed instead of slugged. To me, it looked like Ranzany tried boxing and punched to the best of his ability, but Cuevas was just too destructive.

    Back to Duran, it’s amazing that he won both the junior middle and middleweight titles in ’83 and ’89 respectively and was still somewhat competent until he quit around 2002.

    I’m glad that you mention Harold Weston jr,, Randy Shields and Harold Volbrecht. All of these guys were really good fighters who contended well. You mention trainer Hector Martinez. I believe that he may have been involved with Sergio Medina (Mexican fighter who outpointed Alfredo Escalara). Medina is from Jalisco but fought out of Oakland for a while. I met him at an amateur show in Sacramento in 2012. Medina is a really friendly guy who was just thrilled that a fan remembered him.

    Geoffrey Sadao Prenter on January 21st, 2014 at 11:06 PM
  2. It also shows that until someone else comes along who can best Duran’s great career, He’s still, in my humble opinion, NUMERO UNO.

    David on January 22nd, 2014 at 3:42 PM
  3. Exactly David!

    Pedro Fernandez on January 22nd, 2014 at 6:09 PM
  4. He turned pro in 1967 and didn’t retire until about 2002. This in itself is mind-boggling. The great Mexican welterweight, Kid Azteca, fought from the late 1920’s until the early 1960’s. Azteca lived to be almost 90 years old, and Duran still presents himself well. What are these guys made of?!?!

    Geoffrey Sadao Prenter on January 23rd, 2014 at 12:20 PM
  5. I remember this fight well. I seen them both train for the fight and even took pictures with both at the Main st gym, I was only 16 and it was just a very good era full of awesome memories. What I remember most was how charismatic Duran was, in the workouts Cuevas was as always a stoic personality-Less person. Duran however lit up the gym, he just had this aura of mystic that in my mind no other fighter has since been able to hold a candle to. Duran was a special fighter that when he trained right was the whole package. Hands down a better fighter than Chavez, Floyd or Pacquiao. Duran was a bonafide badass with underrated defense.

    Alex on January 25th, 2014 at 9:23 AM
  6. Duran was a great fighter. I think he is a little overrated. Hearns knocked him cold and Benitez outclassed him so he couldn’t deal with the speed of guys of the caliber. Who can blame him to losing to the great THomas Hearns. Hearns right hand would have knocked out a heavyweight.

    Steve Weland on May 25th, 2014 at 4:44 AM

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