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Facing Greatness: Saoul Mamby talks about fighting Roberto Duran

Saoul Mamby talks about fighting Roberto Duran
By Scoop Malinowski

Saoul Mamby boxed Duran on May 4, 1976 in Miami Beach, FL in a
non-title fight. Duran was 24-years-old and in the midst of his reign
as World Lightweight champion. From the Bronx, Mamby was 28, with an
unspectacular record of 19-8-5, in his seventh year as a pro.

Question: Were you intimidated going into the ring with a
ferocious destroyer in his prime like Duran?

Sweet Saoul Mamby: “No. We had worked when he was getting for Esteban
DeJesus. We sparred and we ran together in Central Park. I know he was
a very good fighter, very strong, very sharp. He could box and he could
punch. I remember he hit me with a right hand and the punch – the pain
lasted for about three months. In my rib. And I still had to go and
fight Antonio Cervantes after that. So I couldn’t miss that (L 10 in
November in Venezuela).”

Q: Did you learn anything in the fight with Duran that was
different from sparring with him?

Mamby: “Nothing really much. He was more vicious in the fight than he
was in sparring.”

Q: What were some of the technical tactics you were able to
employ to success against Duran would you say?

Mamby: “I survived!”

Q: Did anything surprise you in the fight with Duran?

Mamby: “He respected me a helluva lot. He didn’t just try to roll over
me. He knew I could box. I wasn’t a big puncher but I could put
accumulative punches together. And he respected me. After the fight he
told me, ‘Very good fight.'”

Q: Last time we talked you said Duran wasn’t the physically
strongest fighter you fought.

Mamby: “No. Saensak Muangsurin of Thailand, also Thomas Americo of
Indonesia. They weren’t as sharp or as fast as Duran. And they weren’t
as smart as Duran. They were physically stronger than Duran though.”

Q: What was your strategy against Duran?

Mamby: “Tie him up, box. If you give him leverage he’ll kill you. You
can’t give leverage away. He doesn’t have room to hurt you.”

After losing to Duran, Mamby lost on points to Saensak Muangsurin in
Korat, Thailand in 1977 for the WBC Super Lightweight title. Mamby got
another WBC world title shot in 1980 – when his record was 28-13-5 –
and stopped Sang Hyun Kim in the 14th round in Seoul, Korea. Mamby,
whose own manager didn’t even bother to make the trip to see the
title-winning performance, defended the title five times against Thomas
Americo, Esteban DeJesus, Termite Watkins, Jo Kimpuani and Obisia
Nwankpa before losing his belt to Leroy Haley.

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