“Boxing’s a poor man’s sport. We can’t afford to play golf or tennis. It is what it is. It’s kept so many kids off the street. It kept me off the street.”
Sugar Ray Leonard
By Alex P. Vidal
EXPERTS were divided and could not predict accurately who would win between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in the 15-round battle for the WBC welterweight championship in Montreal, Quebec on June 20, 1980.
Both Leonard, a 1976 Montreal Olympics gold medalist, and Duran, known as “manos de piedra” or hands of stone, were unbeaten and the most popular welterweights in the world in that era.
Leonard, Duran, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler were known at that time as “The Fabulous Four” of boxing.
Before the bout, Leonard had an impressive record of 27 wins.
Only nine of his opponents survived the distance.
Duran paraded a menacing 28-0 record with 18 stoppages.
Owing to Leonard’s Olympics reputation, Duran was installed a slight underdog.
But Duran (103-16, 70 KOs final record) shocked the world when he dethroned defending champion Leonard (36-3, 25 KOs final record) by unanimous decision.
In a rematch on Nov. 25, 1980 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Panamian visitor registered one of the most mysterious twists in fight history with his “no mas, no mas” or no more no more surrender in the 8th canto.
The fight between Nonito Donaire Jr and Nicholas Walters for WBA super-featherweight tiara in Carson, California on October 18, has the making of the first Duran vs Leonard showdown.
Like Duran, Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs), being the challenger, is slightly the underdog in betting.
Flamboyant defending champion Walters (24-0, 20 KOs), born and based in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is being regarded as the new Sugar Ray Leonard.
Walters stands five feet and seven inches and is fresh from a 5th round one-punch disposal win against Vic Darchinyan on May 31, 2014 in Macau, China.
Walters’ win over Darchinyan (39-7, 28 KOs) was his fourth straight knockout victory since winning by unanimous decision against Hector Javier Marquez in Colon City, Panama on March 31, 2012, and third title defense.
It is Ring Magazine’s candidate for knockout of the year.
Darchinyan bravely engaged the taller Walters in a torrid slugfest from the opening round until he was zapped by a tomahawk right that turned his legs into spaghetti.
Walters finished him off with a wicked straight to the chin in a clinical precision that impressed boxing scholars watching at ringside.
Darchinyan’s final fall did not need the referee’s mandatory count.
Donaire, incidentally inflicted Darchinyan’s two other KO losses, but it was Walter’s destruction of Darchinyan that made headlines.
So bad was Darchinyan’s fall that supporters and experts called for his immediate retirement.
Thus Darchinyan became the common denominator between “The Filipino Flash” and “The Axe Man.”
Walters, 28, earned “The Axe Man” moniker because all his KO victims collapsed like they were pummeled by a forest ax like what happened to Darchinyan.
The Jamaican terror is expected to use his height advantage and lateral movement ala Sugar Ray to befuddle Donaire, born in Bohol, Philippines and raised in San Leandro, California.
Thirty four-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs) soundly defeated Donaire for WBO super-bantamweight and WBA super-bantamweight crowns in New York on April 13, 2014.
Donaire could not catch the fast-moving and slick-punching Cuban, who used his vast experience as a former Olympics champion, to humiliate the Philippines’ most popular ring heartthrob next to Manny Pacquiao.
If Donaire, 31, can’t nail Walters with the same combination he used when he tortured abrasive Mexican Jorce Arce en route to a 3rd round KO for WBO super-bantamweight belt in Houston, Texas on December 15, 2012, the Fil-Am fighter might blow away a chance to pocket the WBA super-world featherweight jewels.
Walters, however, has not met a world champion in Donaire’s caliber despite his unblemished record.
Donaire, an orthodox like Walters, is a deadly counter puncher.
He attacks with both fists over his head exposing his body, which he actually uses as bait.
Once the enemy diverts his attention from head to the body and targets the breadbasket, Donaire uncorks a flash counter punch to the face followed by a left cross.
The same tactic he used when he brutally drilled former world champion Fernando Montiel in the second round for the WBO and WBC bantamweight titles in Las Vegas on February 19, 2011.