After winning the welterweight title from Roberto Duran during Thanksgiving week 1980, Sugar Ray Leonard, flush with victory, indicated that his win was not just for him, but for the United States, as well. Today the same PC hypocrites who would gush at Canelo Alvarez' Mexican nationalism would scoff in disgust at Leonard's words. Yup, a lot has changed in the thirty-five years since Ray won back his title.
One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the impact the words "no mas" left on the fight world, and the sports world at large, that evening in New Orleans. I remember being in fourth grade and listening to kids on the bus talk about Duran quitting the next day. Being too young to have seen the fight myself, I was disgusted by this news. How in the world could a champion - one as iconic as Duran, no less - quit?
It's a question people are still asking. And while it's true quitting in the ring isn't considered as disgraceful as it once was (and for good reason, I might add), Duran's unique form of quitting remains a legitimate turn off. For while the guy was clearly losing the fight, he still had a good chance of pulling out a win. It was, in reality, a very close bout.
What's more, Duran didn't seem to be hurt and he clearly hadn't taken a whole lot of damage when he abruptly walked away from the proceedings. He simply quit. And we're still not sure why exactly. Various excuses have been given, yet the boxing world has yet to be thoroughly convinced of any of them. Indeed, Duran - a world class bully - wasn't in Leonard's head as he had been in their first fight (which he had won). And that seemed to frustrate Duran.
Could that have been all there was to it in the end? Was it simply a case of a very talented fighter sticking up to a bully? Maybe, Maybe not. In the end, it's the supposed uttering of the words "no mas," however, which has stuck with boxing, and the popular culture in general.
For "no mas" no longer just means "no more" in Spanish. It means a person has stepped away from a challenge, quite possible when he or she didn't really have to.