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Saoul Mamby Remembers Fighting Roberto Duran

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Saoul Mamby: When I Boxed A Legend… 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. 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 ready 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).” 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.” What were some of the technical tactics you were able to employ to success against Duran would you say?
Mamby: “I survived!” 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.'” 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.” 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.
Mamby passed away this week in New York City at age 71.

About Scoop Malinowski

Author of six books including "Muhammad Ali: Portrait of a Champion" and "Heavyweight Armageddon: The Lewis versus Tyson Championship Battle" available at amazon