Roberto Duran was nicknamed “Hands of Stone”. He is regarded as one of the top 5 all-time pound for pound fighters. He held world titles at four different weights. His career crossed five decades. He finally retired in January 2002 at the age 52. Legend has it that he knocked out a horse with a punch at the age of 14 after someone dared him to try it. His career record was 120 fights, 104 wins with an astonishing 69 knockouts.
But November of 1980, in the Louisiana Superdome, one fight and two words became what he will be most remembered for. It was a rematch fight with “Sugar-Ray” Leonard. There was no love-loss between these fighters and the build-up to the fight was at a fever pitch as the bell rung to signal the beginning of the fight.
Leonard had learned from his earlier fight with Duran and he avoided getting into a flat-footed brawl. He jabbed and danced all over the ring for 7 rounds…. Taunting Duran to the point that it was almost embarrassing. Duran seemed unable to land his trademark punches.
In the seventh round Leonard taunted and embarrassed Duran with a “bolo punch” where he moved his right arm in a circular motion drawing Duran’s attention to his right hand and smartly scored a stinging jab with his left hand.
During the eighth round Duran abruptly turned to the referee and turned away from Leonard and amazingly quit the fight. His two Spanish words, “No mas”, meaning no more, ended the fight.
Boxing fans couldn’t believe what they were watching. I can still remember my dad talking about this fight. He had quit in the middle of a fight. With all of the hype and drama that led up to the fight, it didn’t seem possible it would end like this.
He had quit. Normally when a fighter or his trainer throws in the towel the opponent has beaten them to a pulp and for the safety of the fighter the inevitable ending to the fight is acknowledged. This was not the case for this fight.
Leonard led by a small margin of 68-66, 68-66 and 67-66 on the judges’ scorecards at the beginning of the eighth round. The outcome of the fight was still yet to be determined. Duran still had time to land one of his monstrous punches that would have turned the table on Leonard. But Duran had quit. He had conceded defeat.
What’s interesting to me is how Duran’s response in this fight, parallels our life decisions. Are you at a place today where you are ready to say those two words, “No Mas”? …In your job, in your family, or maybe in your marriage.
Galatians 6:9 commands us to “not lose heart in doing good; for in due time, if we do not faint, we shall reap.”
Victory is still in your reach. You don’t have to give up. Look to God for the courage you need to face another round. Remember who the real enemy is. You may be confused and embarrassed by where you find yourself, but there’s a way out. Stay in the fight and answer the bell every round.