Long Live the King - Alexis Arguello
By John Raspanti, DoghouseBoxing.com (July 3, 2009)  
When I read that Alexis Arguello had died my mind flashed back twenty eight years to the night he took on Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. A slugfest from the get go, Boom Boom surprised by actually taking control of the fight and winning the early rounds. As fight wore on Mancini was still competitive but something was changing.

That something was Arguello; he started to pick up the pace. He was jabbing more and backing up Mancini with some rocket shots. The grim reaper was coming alive and you knew that soon, it would be lights out for
Boom Boom. It happened in the 14th round, as Arguello clocked Mancini with right hands and staggered him. The referee stopped the fight. Alexis the great had won but instead of parading around the ring and accepting the cheers of the crowd he went immediately to the disappointed Mancini. He hugged and consoled him, telling him not to give up that someday he too would be a champion. Mancini was amazed at the show of sportsmanship.

The term two-dimensional seems to fit Arguello like, well, a glove. Inside the ring he was completely in charge, an artistic boxer who could turn into a cold blooded assassin as soon as he smelled blood. Outside of the ring his life was a mess consisting of many marriages, fortunes won and lost, drug problems and estrangements from his kids. So you make a choice. How do you remember Arguello?

There were demons for sure. Whether his own or his phony friends, they destroyed his life in Miami, drove him to indulge in drugs, and devoured his relationship with his wife. But whatever the problems were, nothing can take away from his absolute brilliance in the ring.

Arguello could do it all, box, slug you name it. When he boxed he could look bored, jabbing smoothly, staying on the outside and studying his opponent. Aided by a good chin and a better mind it seemed like he was daring his opponent to get closer. Then when he would sense something or see blood, Arguello would strike, the bored technician becoming the electrifying executioner.

Arguello won the first of his titles in 1978. He took on tough Alfredo Escalera in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The date was January 28, 1978. The fight was tough, brutal and bloody. It was finally stopped in the 13th round with Escalera behind all the judges’ scorecards. Arguello defeated Escalera again a year later and then beat Rafael "Bazooka” Limon and Bobby Chacon. He moved up in weight and took on the tough Scotsman Jim Watt in 1981 and easily won a decision. He beat Mancini and Roberto Elizondo before taking on "The Hawk” Aaron Pryor. The fight of the year ended with Arguello on his back. He had clocked Pryor with some hellacious punches, especially a right hand that Pryor’s relatives in Cincinnati probably felt. But it wasn’t enough, a minute into the 13th round Arguello was toast. I can remember how shocking it was seeing him lying on the canvas. The mind goes from shock to concern and then relief. The Pryor fight was Arguello’s last great one after that he was never the same. He fought Pryor again and lost. He retired and came back, always in need of money but still reeking of class and sportsmanship. He was the prince of the ring with a heart as big as the state he was born in.

And so now he’s gone, but in reality he’s not. Anybody who ever saw him fight will never forget the grace and fire he exuded, the class he demonstrated and the twinkle in his eye.

Rest in peace Alexis…


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