Thursday, July 02, 2009

Alexis Arguello

Alexis Arguello was inarguably a great fighter. And, based on everything I’ve ever heard about him (and on one brief discussion with him), was an equally wonderful man. As we know, he came to a very bad end. He may have been the kind of guy who commits suicide (he had spoken about contemplating it.) But he may just as well have been murdered. He had many political enemies, and he’d been in the drug life for an extended period of time. Either way, it’s a shame that he’s dead.

But since his death, I’ve read a number of accounts of his career, and each has alluded to his first knockout loss to Aaron Pryor in a way that suggests that there was something tainted about the fight’s outcome. Each article referred to the “little black bottle” from which Pryor drank after the thirteenth round. Pryor knocked out Arguello in the fourteenth.

I’ve been around boxing for a long time, and I’ve never found or heard of an elixir that will give a tired fighter superhuman powers. Believe me, if there was one, I’d have known about it and my fighters would have used it. Aaron Pryor knocked out Alexis Arguello because he was a bigger, stronger, faster, and better fighter.

That doesn’t denigrate Arguello in any way. Aaron Pryor was one of the greatest natural fighters I’ve ever seen. With the exception of Sugar Ray Leonard, he was better than any of his contemporaries. And I’d argue that, at his best, he was Ray’s equal.

So as much as I admire Alexis Arguello, I hate to see part of his legacy being built falsely at the expense of another genuinely great fighter. It not only diminishes Pryor, it doesn’t do Arguello any good either. Alexis doesn’t need any fiction created on his behalf. Anyone who knows anything about boxing knows how good he was.


At 4:01 PM, Blogger Frank Lotierzo said...

Charles -- you're exactly right. Pryor was the bigger and better man. He also had a style that would've given Arguello trouble any time during his career. No black bottle had any bearing on the outcome.


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