By Tré Berry III🖊️ | 12/05/2019
A combined record of ✅86 wins – 46 losses❌…interesting, but what record does that pertain to? 🤔that is the cumulative results throughout all of boxing history when 🥇Olympic Gold-Medalists at the professional level fight in rematches against a non-Gold-Medal recipient boxer that they had previously lost to. The “86” represents those Gold-Medalists that won gold, and the “46” represents fights in which those Gold-Medalists couldn’t turn it around, losing yet again to the same boxer – all of that amounting to a solid 65.2% success rate for amateur boxers of that creed. There are a multitude of reasons why boxers with that level of pedigree are able to turn the tides once they get a second crack against their conqueror, and we will delve deep into why the scales tend to tip in their favor when they are granted that second chance to reverse course and outcome.
Pictured above are two of boxing’s all-time legendary figures in 🥇🇺🇸Sugar Ray Leonard & 🇵🇦Roberto Duran in their rematch that took place at the Superdome in 🏟️New Orleans circa 1980. Months prior, “Manos De Piedra” and the “Sugar Man” engaged in a firefight that was dubbed “the Brawl in Montreal“, and it lived up to its moniker. Duran had fought the fight of his life, and Leonard, while he did very well and fought Duran competitively, came in with the wrong game plan and fought the wrong fight for what he was capable of doing, failing to see where his advantages were and looking to fight Duran’s type of fight, which was one fought in closed quarters and exchanging blows with the heavy-fisted Duran.
For the re-match to come, Leonard and legendary Head-Trainer 🗣️Angelo Dundee was dead-set on figuring out and in pinpointing where Duran’s weak points were, and how they could use that against him. What they collectively came up with were a few key integral ideas that they could take heavy advantage of. The benefit to having keen eyes and a strong voice in your ear goes far past in-fight strategic planning and confrontation – it works for you 🕰️around the clock, specifically with in between fight preparation.
Upon studying Duran religiously, they realized that one of Duran’s weaknesses were his inconsistent between fight habits, where he would routinely blow up to near 200 lbs, then damn kill himself to come down in weight whenever he felt it was time for him to get back to business, on his own terms. Leonard decided to take advantage of it, pushed and did his part to schedule the re-match around the time that Duran reached his peak weight during his binge period, and for whatever reason, Duran’s people agreed to have the match, putting mental and physical stress on Duran to lose the weight in a hurry, which was the first frustrating component to what was to amount for the Panamanian boxer.
What they also concluded on is that Duran would be bothered with Ray using much more lateral movement, countering ability, and stepping out with Duran’s step in to keep their distance and force Duran to constantly re-shuffle his foot positioning to get his shots off, which was the second line of frustration during the bout that took place throughout the latter portion of the contest.
The final leg of Duran’s frustration was with Ray playing with his ego, early on by frustrating him a bit with his 👣footwork, with Duran motioning Ray to stand still and trade like how he did in the first fight, but to no avail as Ray did what he wanted to do, dictating his own terms with superior ring generalship.
The taunting grew to a feverish pitch from Ray Leonard in the 7th round, to the dismay of 🎙️Howard Cosell, who failed to see what Ray was doing to Hands of Stone, and as the taunts continued, Duran was losing his vigor, and started to go through the motions – that is until he inexplicably turned his back in the 8th round and waived Leonard off, 😲spawning confusion from the Ref, the crowd and announcers. Ray jumped in to land a couple body shots with Duran’s back turned to him, but Referee Octavio Meyran got in the way, and once again, Duran waived his hand as a symbol of a 🏳️white flag in resignation. To the shock of all those in attendance, Duran had Quit❗ and Leonard ran to the corner to jump up on the turnbuckle in jubilant celebration as he just beat the feared legend Duran and giving him his first loss in a Title, to win his WBC and RING Welterweight World Titles back.
Now some of the key elements that was showcased in the re-match between Leonard & Duran (also in the 3rd fight) was recognition skills, adaptation, carrying out a completely different game plan, mental warfare, raw natural talent, and versatility. The benefits of being brought up in the amateur system is that versatility becomes paramount to your overall attack due to facing a multitude of different boxers from differing regions, of various different levels, so the onus and emphasis falls on you as a boxer to be able to quickly figure out your opponents tendencies and game planning in just 3 rounds of action (⚠️depending on certain tournaments, the round total may vary, but the same principle applies throughout).
At the pro level, that should translate to quick thinking and recognition skills, so that you are able to quickly adapt to different tactics, and having the ability physically to be able to carry out what you mentally pick up about your opponent. The true Champions at any level, and in particular the professional level bridges all of these attributes together with various experience, and helps to build a certain level of Championship acumen and moxy by casting you against the best worldwide in tournament settings.
There are a few other notable matches to refer to when it comes to a Gold-Medalist shifting gears and getting the “W” after dropping a fight against an opponent. Who could forget when Heavyweight legend 🥇🇬🇧Lennox Lewis squared off against dangerous power puncher 🇺🇸Hasim Rahman in their much anticipated rematch back in 2000?
Lewis the first time around was toying with Rahman too much and ended up getting caught with a single right hand flush that put Lennox out for the ⏲️10-count and lost his Title Belts, so Lennox was hellbent on trying to regain his positioning as the top dog in the Heavyweight division, and damn did he ever – as he destroyed Rahman in the second fight with a left hook, right hook combination that put Hasim flat on his back, two shots that Rahman could not handle, or get up from, thus Lennox Lewis regaining his RING-MAGAZINE, WBA & IBF World Heavyweight Titles.
Another interesting encounter pertaining to this topic is when 🥇🇺🇸Floyd Patterson was able to recover from his knockout defeat to 🥈🇸🇪Ingemar Johansson in 1959 where he hit the canvas a total of 7 times in under 3 rounds of action. Patterson, being a prideful consummate professional went back to the drawing board was was successful in exacting his revenge the following year to knock Johannson out with a devastating left hook that landed in the 5th round upstairs that put Johansson out for good, thus Floyd Patterson snatching back his LINEAL/RING Heavyweight World Title to even the score between the two rivals.
Now this upcoming Saturday, we have another one of these scenarios where Gold-Medalist 🥇🇬🇧Anthony Joshua (22-1-0, 21KO) is looking to avenge his lone loss that came at the hands of Unified Heavyweight Titlist 🇺🇸Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1-0, 22KO), who had a good amateur career, though no medal to show for it, but we will get to that in a minute. We will ultimately see how this pans out, because nothing is set in stone when analyzing this particular match-up, but this topic at hand here makes for intriguing discussion and breakdown.
I am sure at this point whenever Joshua 🔎analyzes his personal performance from the first encounter from Ruiz, he must heavily cringe at the mass amount of tactical mistakes that he had made throughout the entire contest, with his lead hand being very low against a quicker fighter, no defensive responsibility with that lead hand, very little side-to-side leg movement, and fits of carelessness that allowed Ruiz cracks to get some wide power shots through to completely take Joshua’s equilibrium away.
Now looking at Joshua’s history thus far, he has of course won a Gold-Medal, which is a clear indicator that he is capable of winning the big one, and he had proved just that once again in the pros when he got a surprise renaissance performance from Heavyweight great 🥇🇺🇦Wladimir Klitschko who had Joshua in all types of trouble, however Joshua was able to see himself through the dangerous moments, pick himself up and come through in the clutch to knockout and eventually retire Mr. Klitschko from the sport of boxing (at least temporarily). Joshua is more than capable of dipping in the 🌊reservoir one more time when it comes to the inner fortitude driving his efforts, while he enacts the many changes needed and necessary to make in order to get his belts back.
Now if there is one thing that goes against AJ is that although a Gold-Medalist, his amateur experience was rather short lived, with Joshua only getting in roughly 43 fights (📝40-3). Some of the mistakes made in the first Ruiz fight may be attributed to the lack of experience. Ruiz in this case does boast more experience, which at times shows in his discipline, and the tactical approach, with marginal errors exhibited. Ruiz amateur record was (📝105-5), so it will be very interesting to see who makes the better adjustments, with Ruiz having more rounds and fights in the 🎒bag, and with Joshua having the experience of going all the way in the amateurs towards the mountain-top, and having a similar trajectory in the pros up till his lone defeat suffered at the hands of the man that he is about to encounter once again.