October 17th, 2013 By Pedro Fernandez
ESPN SPECIAL OFF MARK ON ROBERTO DURAN-RAY LEONARD
San Francisco, CA- Having known and trained with both Roberto Duran and “Sugar Ray” Leonard, this is the truth that started with Duran kicking the s*it out of Leonard in Montreal on June 20, 1980, the “No Mas” (no more) fight in November 1980, and the fact that Ray waited almost ten years before giving Roberto a third fight.
UNLIKE ESPN SPECIAL, PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE HERE!
The second fight, this is the true story of the making and the ending of the “No Mas” rematch with Leonard. Michael Trainer, a Maryland attorney, was the brains behind “Sugar Ray” Leonard. Around the Leonard camp, Mike was known as Top Cat, and when he came to negotiations he was. In September 1980, Mike found out that Roberto was weighing around 215 pounds. Then he saw photographs of Duran which got him on the phone with Roberto’s people. Mike then offered Roberto $8 million to fight Leonard on November 25, 1980.
DURAN OFFERED $8 MILLION & CAN’T REFUSE!
Duran had only made $1 million once, that in the first fight with Ray. Mike Trainer told Carlos Eleta, Duran’s manager per se, that the $8 million was a take it or leave it deal. If Trainer did not hear back from Duran’s people that day, Ray was gong in another direction and Roberto would have fought Wilfredo Benitez, in his first defense of the WBC 147 lb. laurels.
NOT 100%, DURAN FIGURED LOSS WOULD THIRD FIGHT WOULD MATERIALIZE
Team Duran accepted, Trainer went and got the almost always available New Orleans Superdome, thus Roberto started training at around 205 lbs. circa the beginning of October for a 147 lb. fight November 25th.
ROBERTO BEATEN AT NEGOTIATING TABLE BY MIKE TRAINER
Again, Mike Trainer was well aware of the weight, over 50 lbs., Duran would have to shed in 6-8 weeks or so, thus instead of getting in shape and honing his skills, Roberto was taking off weight the hard way by working out on a mere 2000 calories a day.
MIKE TRAINER PULLED A PAT O’GRADY-LIKE MOVE
Suckering Roberto into a fight he would have extreme difficulty in winning, the weight loss of better than 50 lbs., that was a smooth move by Team Leonard. But what really won the fight for Leonard was the 24 ft. square foot ring that reminded me of when we used to box as kids in various backyards. Pat O’Grady, father of the never beaten as WBA lightweight (135) champ Sean O’Grady thought he was slick.
MOST OF YOU DON’T THIS STUFF!
Supposed to fight speedster Howard Davis on national TV, Davis pulled out five days before. Old man O’Grady, a real “piece” of work, had a 16 foot put up so Howard could not run on Sean. He forgot about the size of the ring, and brought in last minute southpaw sub Andy Ganigan, one of the hardest hitting punchers in history, and he destroyed O’Grady and his career in two rounds.
LEONARD GOT UNDER DURAN’S SKIN FROM THE START!
With Ray running around like a shoplifter from a security guard, Roberto got frustrated and was not going to let Leonard embarrass him. The clowning, showboating, the unwillingness to engage Duran “mano y mano” pissed Roberto off to the point where he said “No Mas” and walked away from Ray in the 8th round. This fistic “quit job” was a move that would haunt Duran for years.
COMING OFF BEATING IRAN BARKLEY, DURAN WAS OLDER THAN DIRT!
When Duran and Leonard met the 3rd time, it was late 1989 and guess what, Roberto had to lose better than 40 lbs. to make 160 in December 1989 outdoors in the 39′ degree weather at the grand opening of the Mirage Hotel. I guess you know Leonard won the third fight, and as a side note, Roberto’s wife Felicadad, she knew what time it was as I remember her leaving after the 8th round.
THE BARKLEY FIGHT WAS DURAN’S LAST STAND!
Duran in February won a stunning 12 round decision win over reigning WBC middleweight (160) champion Iran Barkley. Ironically, Iran knocked out Tommy Hearns, Tommy knocked out Roberto. Although both Leonard and Duran fought on, it wasn’t with great success. They were made for each other, style wise, and while Leonard beat Marvin Hagler, and did so only because Roberto took Marvin to school three years earlier in 1984,
RAY ROBINSON SAID DURAN “GREATER” THAN LEONARD & HEARNS
One on one, I place Duran over Leonard, and Tommy Hearns over Duran as the size factor was such that Roberto could probably never beat Hearns. As far as history goes, “Sugar Ray” Robinson told me, “Duran is a great fighter, Leonard is retired. They are both great fighters, but Roberto Duran is a greater fighter than Ray and Hearns.” Ray told me this just minutes after Hearns had knocked out Duran in June 1984.