Roberto Duran gets a bum rap. Here’s a world champion several times over, winner of 103 fights, Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, and yet casual sports fans think of him as that guy who quit. Two words, “No mas,” originally spit out like gargled water between rounds, have long defined Roberto Duran’s popular legacy.
But to boxing people, those two words, mean something very different. In many ways, they affirm Duran’s greatness the way a ten-count affirms a fighter’s dominance. They were his assertion that boxing was a sacred ritual for men, men who believed that stepping into a ring was not mere entertainment, but something more solid and bedrock. So while the casual fans think of “No mas,” boxing people think of the man called “Manos de Piedra,” or “Hands of Stone,” as a devastating alloy of power, speed, technique and confidence, a fighter who deserves to be in the discussion of the all-time greats.
“I’ve been watching boxing now for about fifty years, and Duran is the best fighter I’ve ever seen,” says Charles Farrell, who once managed champions Leon Spinks and Freddie Norwood and is now an award-winning boxing writer for the influential website FightNetwork.com. “Inarguably, better than Ali, better than Ray Leonard.”