By Paul Concannon
Robert DuranCountry: PanamaNickname: 'Manos de Piedra'(Hands of Stone).Career duration: 1967 - Present.
Record: 102-15 (69)Status: Active.World titles: WBC and WBA Lightweight, WBC Welterweight, WBA Light Middleweight, WBC Middleweight.Style: In his lightweight prime a crashing, bashing and relentless power puncher. Had a high-energy style and endless stamina. His fury and aggression tempered by a cunning defence and a ruthless nature.Best punch: Straight right.
Aaron Pryor Country: America. Nickname: 'The Hawk'Career duration: Nov 1976-Dec 1990.Record: 39-1(35)Status: Retired.World titles: WBA and IBF Light-Welterweight.Style: A Short and very aggressive buzzsaw fighter, who often averaged 100 punches or more per round. Carried power early or late and was able to absorb huge punches without flinching, could turn on the skill to match his power, sometimes very difficult to catch.Best punch: Difficult to say he threw so many, possibly the left hook.
15 ROUNDS AT LIGHT-WELTERWEIGHT…THE ORANGE BOWL, MIAMI…When asked what he thinks of his opponent's chances in their eagerly awaited match up, Duran dismisses the Cincinnati man, "He is not even a test, I will kill him!" Those remarks prove to be little more than water off a ducks back to Pryor, who retorts, "I just eat up theses Latin fighters. Roberto is a great warrior, but so were Arguello and Cervantes, and look what I did to them. When he throws one punch I will throw two, when he throws two I will throw four. Duran has never seen nothing like me!"
So the scene is set for this mouth-watering clash of high-energy brawlers. "This is two express trains on a collision course," says Ray Arcel, Duran's chief second.
The two enter the ring to rapturous support, Duran from the local Latin contingent in Miami and Pryor from the American faithful, and a near carnival atmosphere ensues when both are introduced. Duran spends most of his time taunting Pryor, who while calm never takes his eyes off the Panamanian. The audible clang of the bell has hardly subsided when Pryor pounces. Meeting Duran head on in ring centre he opens up instantly with a breathtaking attack which catches him, Duran, off guard and forces him backward for a moment. Duran refuses to be dominated and snarls defiance at Pryor, opening up with a big burst of fast swinging hooks and uppercuts.
The crowd is treated to an all out war for the first 60 seconds as they refuse to give ground. A crashing Duran uppercut is answered by a wicked arching right, and back and forward it goes, one way and the other with both men taking turns to rock the other. With round nearing the halfway point, Pryor takes a backward step and wiggles his hips at the seething Duran, and suckers the Latin on to a terrific left hook that sends Duran sagging to the floor. With his fellow Hispanic's roaring encouragement, 'Manos de Piedra' bounces up at the count of three and attempts to attack Pryor before the referee can finish the mandatory eight.
With the audience in near bedlam, Pryor charges Duran in an attempt to capitalise and walks straight into a crunching countering left hook and within seconds it is the Americans turn to taste the canvas! Up at seven, stung but not badly hurt, Pryor is straight back on the attack and the two again go punch for punch in a breathtaking climax to the opening round. Punch statistics will later reveal that Pryor threw 121 punches in the round, Duran 105. "The fight is one round old and it's already a classic!" Bellows a ringside commentator.
Round two and both start where they left off, with stunning high volume attacks and artful twists and turns and subtle defensive moves, the fight is a brawl but a connoisseur's delight at the same time. Paying more attention to defence, Pryor plasters Duran with jabs and jiggles his head left and then right to avoid the counter attacks, but enough is still getting through to keep the Cincinnati man more than occupied. The round ends with Pryor scoring with another jab flush on the button.
The third round sees the first real change in tactics by either man, as Pryor bounces on to the balls of his feet and turns dancemaster, scoring with the jab and following through with the right. Duran, happy to take a breather trots after him, keeping pace and pawing with his jab in order to set up a right hander of his own. For a full two minutes the strategy works for Pryor, until a hard Duran right crashes in late in the round. Another toe to toe brawl erupts with both giving and taking hard shots, and the referee separates them at the bell. The middle rounds are terribly hard fought with neither man giving any quarter. In these hard to score rounds the Panamanian finds his opponents body an inviting target, and pounds away at the ribs and kidneys at every opportunity, as well as popping in a few below the belt for good measure.
After nine rounds of breathtaking action it appears Pryor has a slight edge in the scoring, but his lead has come at a cost. His left eye begins to swell, the affect of several hard right hands, and his body is beginning to register the effects of Duran's flagrant kidney punching with bruising around the small of his back. The paces drop slightly through the tenth and eleventh, with both thinking about the fifteen rounds. This seems to suit Duran who appears not to mind the pace, as long as he is controlling it, and his jab and straight right start landing, as well as several rabbit punches he lands in a rare clinch. The eleventh ends with Pryor on the ropes under heavy fire, and trudging back to his corner looking weary and demoralised, and Duran as sprightly as if it was the first round.
The twelfth is all Duran. Pryor is hurt by a right hand to the body almost straight away and his own punches, while always in evidence, have now lost much of there snap. It is a viciously hard round for him. He absorbs a lot of leather while just trying to chug along, and he is hurt again at the rounds end. Desperately trying to rejuvenate their fighter, the Pryor corner lead by the notorious Panama Lewis, dowse him in Ice cold water. "This is up for grabs still champ. This is hawk time, give me three rounds for the title!" Slapped on his rump as he leaves the corner, a fresher looking Hawk bounces out and meets Duran with the fire he showed in the first round, and he attacks with what he knows best, volume. Now it is Duran's turn to look tired as the re-energised Pryor forces him backward and several big swinging punches send spray flying off the Panamanians head. With the fight hanging in the balance, Pryor lands flush with a savage left hook - right hand combination and Duran totters against the ropes badly hurt. Three follow up shot's land cleanly, and Roberto grimly tumbles to the canvas.
With a deafening roar from the two-way crowd, the referee screams the count at Duran who only just makes it up at the count of nine. The bell saves Duran from further abuse. "You had the son of a bitch", screams Ray Arcel in the Panamanians corner, "are you going to let him get away with that?" screams a gruff Freddy Brown to a now furious Duran. The fourteenth round is another classic, a great round in the history of boxing, both men take turns in rocking one another as they attack, locked in combat like two pitbull's. The last round is a fitting end to a brutal battle, and for nearly three minutes the crowd are treated to brutal trench warfare. With seconds remaining, Duran steps back and takes a breath, and then fires a right that knocks Pryor dizzy, sending him down on the seat of his trunks. The bell will ring with Pryor on his feet at the count of three.
With ringsiders split in their opinions as to the outcome, the arena is hushed as the decision is announced. The scores are 144-144, 143-142 Duran and finally 145-144 for Pryor, the result is a draw!
RESULT: A fifteen round draw.
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