Advertisement
Advertisement

No Mas: ESPN’s Look Back at an Infamous Night

By Thomas Gerbasi

November 26, 1980 was a good day. It was the morning after my hero, Sugar Ray Leonard, defeated my father’s favorite fighter, Roberto Duran. Better yet, Leonard didn’t just win the fight; he got the victory due to the Panamanian’s surrender in the eighth round with the infamous words “no mas.”

As key a phrase in boxing history as “Down goes Frazier,” “I am the greatest,” “Everybody has a plan until they get hit,” or “They can run but they can’t hide,” “No mas” may be the most mysterious of them all, with filmmaker Eric Drath (“Assault in the Ring”) attempting to get to the bottom of the mystery in the latest installment of ESPN’s always compelling 30 for 30 series, which airs Tuesday at 8pm ET.

In terms of finding out why Duran quit in New Orleans that fall night, there is really no new news in No Mas, as “Manos di Piedra” continues to insist that cramps caused him to wave off the fight. And who knows, maybe that is the answer. But given his history, his demeanor, and the reaction of his longtime trainer Ray Arcel, it’s always been something hard for anyone to fathom, and that’s where this film’s strong points shine through.

More than just a recap of Leonard-Duran II and its aftermath, the documentary tells the story of one of the sport’s great rivalries and how it stopped the sports world for those first two fights (the pair’s 1989 rubber match is given little coverage, and that’s probably a good thing) in 1980. This was a meeting of two of boxing’s all-time greats at arguably the height of their powers, and the difference between the two outside the ring couldn’t be more evident.

Back then, Duran was the streetfighter and Leonard the pretty boy. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that Leonard was perceived as a media creation, especially considering that by the time the first Duran fight took place on June 20, 1980, he had already defeated tough contenders Randy Shields, Armando Muniz, Adolfo Viruet, Pete Ranzany, Andy Price, and Dave Green, while beating another all-time great in Wilfred Benitez. Of course, his resume at the time couldn’t compare to that of the former lightweight champion, who ruled the division with an iron fist before moving up to 147 pounds in 1978 to begin chasing Leonard.

And after a heated lead-up to the fight, Leonard threw his usual style out the window in order to stand, trade, and attempt to take his pound of flesh from Duran. What resulted was a 15 round epic in which a number of things happened: Duran won the decision, Leonard won his respect, and the 1976 US Olympic Gold medalist also considered retirement after a bout that pushed him beyond his limits.

“If every fight was like that, I couldn’t last,” said Leonard.

As for the respect part, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who is visited often during No Mas, recalled seeing Leonard in a new light after the first Duran bout, describing him as “a pitbull with a pretty face.”

Duran didn’t feel the same way toward his foe, and when the idea of a rematch just five months later was floated, he took it, despite being woefully out of shape due to his post-Montreal partying. The rest is history, history that is covered completely and from all angles during the course of the film. For the diehards, this is familiar, though welcome, territory, as it revisits what is seen by many as the sport’s last true Golden Age. For younger or newer fans, it gives a glimpse into one of boxing’s most infamous moments while also showing the impact boxing had on the general public back then.

What is revealing is the fact that Leonard never felt closure from the second Duran bout due to its ending, feeling that more attention was paid to the way it ended than to what Leonard did to perhaps push his opponent to the brink and quit. What results is a trip to Panama and a meeting with Duran, and while squaring them off in a boxing ring could have turned into something gimmicky, Drath makes it work, as the interaction between the two legends is telling, especially considering their past.

And that’s the selling point of No Mas as far as I’m concerned, seeing Leonard and Duran, both then and now, make for compelling television. Simply put, when they’re on screen, you can’t look away.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by joseph5620 on 10-26-2013

[QUOTE=SBleeder;13850185]You honestly think Duran was entitled to a rematch after "No Mas"??? Leonard had fought his heart out for 15 rounds in Montreal. He deserved a rematch. I love Duran and rank him highly, but he put himself out of…

Comment by BattleAxePurist on 10-26-2013

The production was very well done, to be expected from ESPN and it is one of the most recognized events in boxing history and hopefully they put together some other ones but SRL kinda came off as jerky playing the…

Comment by Ringlife on 10-22-2013

I watched it the other day No Mas boy did Duran start a trend there.

Comment by iLovesoccermoms on 10-21-2013

[QUOTE=AddiX;13849000]I thought the espn no mas was pretty great, showed some great old footage. But the ending was awful. It was like Leonard himself paid for the entire thing the way they made Duran out to be a bad guy.…

Comment by Zen_Fighter on 10-17-2013

I watched it last night and enjoyed it quite a lot. I was just a boy of 10 when the fight happened but I remember how awesome it was when Duran quit. As I learned more about boxing the more…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (81)
Top Headlines Dusty Harrison vs. Thomas 'Cornflake' Lamanna on Sept. 16 Lee Selby Will Have a Ringside Eye on Santa Cruz vs. Frampton Pacquiao Says Comeback is NOT About Money, But Passion Khan on Canelo: He Weighed 187 With Me - Fight Golovkin! Marlon Tapales To Receive Hero's Welcome For Title Win Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton: Ring the Damn Bell Amir Khan Aims For Danny Garcia Mandatory Shot in January Miguel Cotto Officially Passes on Marquez Over Weight Dispute Mikey Garcia: You're Going To See a Better Version of Me! Joseph Diaz: Liam Smith is a Very Tough Fight For Canelo Photos: Adonis Stevenson, Thomas Williams Size Up at Presser Carl Frampton: Everyone Expects Me To Lose, I'll Get The Upset! Dorticos To Shumenov: You Paper Champ, Stop Running Chicken Photos: Margarito, Alvarez Go Face To Face at Presser Video: Leo Santa Cruz Ready For War With Carl Frampton Amir Khan: Arum is Bitter, He's Scared To Do The Pacquiao Fight! Photos: Frampton, Leo Santa Cruz, Malignaggi, Garcia Workouts Photo: Kell Brook Embraces VADA Testing For Golovkin Shot Amnat Ruenroeng Vows To Get Olympic Gold For His Family Photos: Andre Ward Cheers on Kevin Durant, Team USA Czar Glazkov Still Recovering, Return is Possible in November Video: Golovkin's Coach on Terence Crawford, Kell Brook, More Leo Santa Cruz: If Dad Didn't Get Better, I May Have Pulled Out Lucas Browne Enters WBC's VADA Drug Testing Program Frankie Gavin vs. Sam Eggington Looms For October Clash Luke Campbell Focused, Aims To Do a Job on Argenis Mendez Otto Wallin Faces Osborne Machimana on September 10th Liam Walsh to meet Andrey Klimov in IBF final eliminator Leo Santa Cruz Fearful Frampton Won’t Come To Fight Saturday Loeffler on GGG-Brook: The Best at 147 Facing The Best at 160 Bradley Warns: Crawford Can Win, But Pacquiao is NO Postol HBO Sports Head: We Want To Match The Best Fights Possible Olympic Boxers, Now Without Headgear, Worry About Cuts Dimitrenko Confident of Beating Parker, Derailing Joshua Fight Marlon Tapales Shocks Pungluang Sor Singyu, Wins WBO Belt Paul Smith Set For September Return, Won't Be on Liverpool Bill Abel Sanchez: Manny Pacquiao Should Fight Keith Thurman Photos: Robert Guerrero, Alfredo Angulo, Gausha Presser Paulie Malignaggi’s Master Plan: This is Just Step One Loeffler: Golovkin Will Have 3 Fights Prior To Canelo Fight
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement