The 'No Mas' fight: How Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard II gained boxing infamy

Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard II is remembered as the 'No Mas' fight, the words allegedly uttered by the former before he quit the match.

"Sugar" Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran during the infamos 'No Mas' fight. (Twitter: @MayweatherPromo)
By Shayne Dias | Nov 25, 2021 | 5 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Throughout boxing’s illustrious history as a sport, there have been many bouts that have become famous for reasons beyond the actual technical action in the ring. Perhaps no fight epitomises this better than what is now known as the ‘No Mas’ fight.

The fight, which took place between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, had a bizzare ending. Normally, boxing matches will end either when one boxer knocks the other out. Or after the rounds finish and the judges scores decide the winner. Or, in some cases, the referees will call the fight for the safety of one competitor.

However, this fight ended when Duran quit. No, really. He told the referee that he didn’t want to fight anymore and the bout was called. To say fans were left shocked would be an understatement.

It is from this that the bout got its retrospective name. Duran allegedly uttered the words “no mas”, meaning “no more”, at the end of the 8th round, signalling his intention to quit.

The word “allegedly” is used because, according to the fighter himself, he never said those words. That being said, he did make it clear that he wanted to end the fight.

As one can expect, the fallout from this fight was enormous. Duran’s reputation never truly recovered, whereas Leonard got back a win; the two had faced off once before, with Duran winning narrowly via decision.

This match, however, was as decisive as they come. It took place exactly on this day in 1980, and speaking about it is as shocking now as it was back then.

With 41 years having passed since the fight, let us now look back at the circumstances that led to this – and the fallout of the call.

The background

Both Leonard and Duran were among the premier welterweight boxers of the world at that point in time. Indeed, the two of them had already boxed once prior to this on June 20, 1980.

That match saw Duran win a match that was very close to call but unanimous in favour of him. The two lasted 12 rounds but Duran won the match with scores of 148–147, 145–144, and 146–144.

That they met merely five months later was a ploy on the part of Leonard. After winning their first bout at Montreal, Duran went on a party binge as celebration. As a result, he gained quite a bit of weight – and would now need to shed those kilos to make the weight for the fight.

“My intention was to fight Duran ASAP because I knew Duran’s habits,” he said in an interview for Beyond the Glory.

“I knew he would indulge himself, he’d gain 40–50 lbs and then sweat it off to make 147,” he added.

The decision was not a popular one, and even led to Leonard’s long-time trainer Dave Jacobs to quit his team. “My idea is that he should have a tuneup fight before he fights with Roberto again”, Jacobs said.

“I think he won the fight with Duran, but I don’t think it is healthy for him to be fighting Duran right away.”

History would prove Leonard was right to take the fight, because Duran’s eating habits would indeed turn out to be his downfall in the match.

“No Mas” – how two words led to one fighter’s fall from grace

The fight, which took place at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, was originally billed as “The Super Fight” and “Stone vs Sugar… Once Again”. It was for the WBC, The Ring and lineal welterweight titles.

In the bout, Leonard employed a change of tactics. In the first bout, Leonard looked to stay still and beat Duran punch for punch. That strategy backfired spectacularly, as Duran’s ability to consistently land blows led to the judges scoring him better.

This time, Leonard looked to use his movement and speed in a bid to catch Duran off guard. This was Leonard at his best and Duran struggled to keep up.

And by the time Round 7 rolled around, Leonard was well and truly in his element. He began taunting the Panama native, shuffling around the ring and even sticking his face out as if goading him to punch.

Later in the same round, Leonard wound up his right hand and then without warning threw a left jab that caught Duran in the face. The taunting and goading carried on as the round ended.

But it was towards the end of Round 8 that the moment of the match came. Duran, clearly winded, simply turned around and allegedly muttered the words “no mas” at the referee. He duly called the bout, meaning Leonard was the winner by TKO.

The aftermath

The “no mas” fight led to Duran’s popularity declining both in his home nation and the USA. Ads that were meant to feature him were pulled from the air. What’s worse, two of his trainers, Freddie Brown and Ray Arcel, quit his team.

“I was shocked. There was no indication that he was in pain or getting weak,” Brown said. Arcel’s outburst, however, was arguably worse.

“That’s it. I’ve had it. This is terrible. I’ve handled thousands of fighters and never had anyone quit on me. I think he needs a psychiatrist more than he needs anything else.”

As for his decision to quit, Duran said that he did so because he had stomach cramps from eating too much post the weigh-in. He avoided eating to ensure he made the weight but after the weigh-in, binged on food.

This led to him developing stomach issues which affected him physically. Indeed, after the fight, he was admitted to the hospital with stomach pains and discharged the next day.

“At the end of the fifth round, I got cramps in my stomach and it kept getting worse and worse. I felt weaker and weaker in my body and arms.”

What’s more, he also claimed to have never said the words “no mas”. He was merely saying “no sigo, no sigo” which meant “I’m not carrying on”.

Leonard, understandably, took great pleasure in the decision. “I made him quit”, Leonard said. “To make a man quit, to make Roberto Duran quit, was better than knocking him out.”

The two would have one more bout, a lop-sided encounter which Leonard won by unanimous decision.