Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello – Highlights (The Battle of the CHAMPIONS)


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November 12th, 1982.”The Battle of the Champions” is one of the Greatest World Title Fights in the history of the sport where Nicaraguan Legend “El Flaco Explosivo” Alexis Arguello attempts to become the 1st Quadruple World Champion taking on reigning WBA World Super Lightweight Champion, Aaron Pryor aka “The Hawk”.

Prefight records; Pryor 33(31)-0, Arguello 74(60)-6.

Going into the fight, Arguello had won world titles in 3 different weight divisions; Featherweight, Junior Lightweight & Lightweight in 14 years as a pro with a long list of victories over top oppositions such as Leonel Hernandez,Vilomar Fernandez, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Jim Watt, Jose Luis Ramirez, Andy Ganigan, Art Hafey, José Legrá, Rigoberto Riasco, Roberto Elizond, Ray Mancini, Rolando Navarrete, Ruben Castillo, Rafael Limon, Royal Kobayashi, Ruben Olivares, Bobby Chacon & Alfredo Escalera (2x).

As for Pryor, he had notable victories over the likes of Miguel Montilla, Akio Kameda & Antonio Cervantes.

This fight was filled with several controversies particularly the infamous “Black Bottle Incident”.

The 1st controversy took place just before the fight when a man attempted to sneak into Arguello’s locker room with a weapon, but was stopped by members of the public. The man was subsequently arrested and the fight began as scheduled without significant interruption.

The fight was competitive all the way, until it’s unforgettable denouement in the 14th stanza.

From the opening bell, Pryor charged towards the challenger with his renown, unflinching pressure. Arguello on the other hand kept parrying shots and counter with his economic punching in ring center as well as on the ropes. Both seemed to be equally efficient in their own ways during the early rounds.

Going into the mid rounds, Pryor started to box on his toes; switching between going on his back and front foots whilst utilizing a productive jab to create the range for his long right hands, which he connected quite effectively.

Up to the 8th, the pace seemed to be in favor of The Hawk. However, Arguello came back strong in rounds 9, 10, 11 and shifted the momentum to his side.

Before the 12th began, the 2nd controversy of the night occurred as a suspicious-looking water bottle was spotted in Pryor’s corner and put to use by trainer Panama Lewis (a notorious cheater). When the round began, Pryor surprisingly came out of his corner with renewed vigor (at the 5:05 mark) and continued to put the pressure on Arguello, who tried to match him blow-for-blow. Both fighters competed at near even terms before the bell sounded.

In the 13th stanza, the ebb & flow of the fight went on as it was for the past 36 minutes but Arguello connected with the hardest blow of the fight; his vaunted right cross that snapped Pryor’s head back. However, Pryor renown for his rock solid chin took the shot well and waltzed away from trouble,

In the corner between before the 14th frame, Pryor’s trainer Panama Lewis was recorded on camera asking a second to hand him another suspicious-looking water bottle (at the 7:00 mark) containing a mysterious black liquid;

“Give me the other bottle. The one I mixed”.

He made Pryor drink the contents of the bottle as he did earlier.

Just as in the 12th, Pryor came out of his corner revitalized with new found stamina and unleashed a vicious barrage of punches on Arguello, who could not return fire or defend himself while leaning helplessly on the ropes. Referee Stanley Christodoulou stepped in at the 1.06 mark.

At the time of the stoppage, Arguello was ahead 127-124 in 2 of the judges’ scorecards.

Despite the presence of the mysterious water bottles that might have given Pryor an unfair advantage, officials failed to conduct a post fight drug test which marked the 3rd and final controversy of this unforgettable night.

While this fight is often regarded as one of the greatest world title fights in history, some have questioned the legitimacy of Pryor’s victory due to the 2nd and 3rd controversies.

In September 1983, a rematch took place. This time, it was not nearly as competitive as their 1st meeting as Pryor dominated an unmotivated Arguello; decking him 3 times en route to a 10th round stoppage. Both fighters were subjected to drug testing, and were found clean.

In 1990, The Ring named “The Battle of the Champions” as the Fight of the Decade (1980s) and The 8th Greatest Title Fight of All Time in 1996.

What do you guys think about this fight, particularly it’s many controversies?

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