Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran II
‘No mas, no mas, no more box’
With 16 seconds remaining in the eighth round of the second fight between defending World Boxing Council welterweight champion Roberto Duran II and Sugar Ray Leonard on Nov. 25, 1980, Duran did something only a handful of boxers had done before him.
He turned away from Leonard, waved his glove at the referee and then walked to his corner — conceding the victory. Before Leonard realized that he was conceding, he delivered a blow to Duran’s stomach.
“ ‘No mas, no mas,’ ” Duran told the referee. ‘No more box,’ ” New York Times writer Red Smith wrote.
When Leonard digested what happened, he pounced on top of the rope in the neutral corner and began his celebration. As Smith wrote, Leonard knew he was winning the fight and acted as such while the bout took place.
Acting as his own judge, Leonard obviously felt that he had it all the way. In the third round when Duran lunged at him and fell far short, Leonard laughed and stuck out his tongue. In the seventh he thrust his face out toward Duran and taunted him with a grimacing, shouldershrugging boogaloo. He was not a spectacularly gracious winner.
This was the first time a champion had voluntarily surrendered his title in more than 15 years. The last person to do so was Sonny Liston, who claimed to have a shoulder injury, in his fight with Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, in 1964.
In 1949, middleweight champion Marcel Cerdan tore his right supraspinatus shoulder muscle defending his title against Jake LaMotta in Detroit. Unlike Duran, Cerdan continued to duke it out with his left hand until his second persuaded him to retire from the fight.
What made Duran’s concession even more surprising was his reputation for intensity and tenacity in the ring. For several years, he held down the lightweight championship — only losing one decision in 72 fights. He moved up to the 147-pound weight class and took the belt from Leonard in the pair’s first fight, “The Brawl in Montreal,” on June 20, 1980.
“I don’t want to fight any more,” Duran said. “I’ve been fighting for a long time.” According to Smith, Duran felt cramps in his stomach in the fifth round, and the pain ultimately moved onto the rest of his body. As the years have gone by, Duran has expounded on why that happened.
He explained that his manager, Panamanian businessman Carlos Eleta, made the mistake of scheduling the fight too close after the first fight, not allowing Duran enough time to drop the necessary weight.
“That was the mistake he made,” Duran told the New York Daily News. “I beat Leonard, and then I got really fat. I had to lose too much weight, I got cramps … I didn’t have strength for anything.
“Eleta was supposed to give me way, way, way more time to prepare myself the right way. I was too fat.”
Before Duran quit the match, one judge had Duran losing, 67-66, on his scorecard, while the other two had him down, 68-66, on their cards.
So exactly who said, “No mas”? Duran said it wasn’t him.
“When I lost the fight in the ring, I said, ‘No sigo, no sigo, no sigo,’ ” said Duran, whose statement translates to repeatedly saying, “I’m not going any further,” to the Daily News.
When Duran and his son Robin attended the ESPN 30 for 30 premiere of No Mas three years ago, Robin explained that it was the referee who said it.
“From his mouth, he never actually said, ‘no mas.’ The actual words ‘no mas,’ ” Robin explained to USA Today’s For the Win. “He waved his hands and the referee said it. [This film is the] first time he sees the referee saying that, he actually thought it was Ray Arcel [one of Duran’s trainers] who said no mas.
“It’s very hard for a fighter to speak with a mouthpiece on. He just waved his hand and this [is the] first time he sees the referee saying that he said no mas.”