The night when Roberto Duran, after almost being pulled out by doctors before the bout, proved he was the best of them all
ROBERTO DURAN w pts 15 SUGAR RAY LEONARD
June 20, 2000; Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
QUITE simply one of the best fights the sport has ever seen. But it was in danger before it began. Roberto Duran’s heart was the cause for concern. Three days before the bout the challenger to Leonard’s WBC welterweight title had to endure extensive testing after abnormalities – consistent with coronary artery disease – were discovered. It was eventually ruled that Duran’s heart condition was similar to what many athletes get because the heart muscle can grow thicker than average. The fight went on, much to the delight of the 43, 317 in attendance. Duran controlled the tempo and won the fight after 15 ferocious rounds. But his heart would again be called into question when he quit in the rematch five months later.
DID YOU KNOW? As Duran made his way to the ring, Joe Frazier was asked at ringside if Roberto reminded him of anyone. “Yes,” he replied, “he reminds me of Charles Manson.” Another fact: Leonard’s wife passed out after the eighth round such was the stress.
WATCH OUT FOR: Watch every second. Duran’s skill is off the scale but Leonard, despite being drawn into his rival’s fight, is almost as impressive.