Does the above headline do a good job of making the fight, the subject of this article, one you want to watch (in the case of you fans who haven’t seen it or to check it out again if you have)? How about this: imagine a fight coming close to matching the ferocious majesty of the much-celebrated opening round between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns – for ten full rounds!
An exaggeration? Maybe, but this is the mesmerized, pumped up, even exhausted state a fight fan can find his or herself in after sitting through the simply incredible ten-round fight – war, battle of attrition, slugfest, fight for the ages – lightweights Mando Ramos and Sugar Ramos put on in August of 1970. This fight had it all, vicious two-way action, multiple shifts in momentum, at least a bucket full of blood, a crowd on its feet screaming for the fight to be stopped, and way too much heart and raw courage on display to be fully appreciated. In fact, the Ramos Vs. Ramos epic pretty much had it all apart from knockdowns and clinches.
The two men met in L.A on a hot day, the venue, The Olympic Auditorium – capacity a little under 11,000 – was packed with 14,000 fans. And it was a fight that could later be summed up with many descriptions. Here’s one attempt: fantastic, beautiful violence. Ramos Vs. Ramos was/is everything that makes a fight fan a fight fan. If your sport is not boxing and never will be, you won’t understand.
Mando Ramos was the younger fighter of the two, in fact, the Mexican/American who was for a time a genuine superstar on the west coast (reports say only Muhammad Ali earned more from boxing in the 1960s) was just 21 years of age. Yet Ramos had had a tough career. A lust for partying also seeing his body pick up considerable mileage, Ramos was for a while a fighter who could burn the candle at both ends. But how long could Ramos carry on doing this? The world lightweight champ in 1969 to 1970, Ramos became the youngest 135-pound champ by beating Carlos Teo Cruz at the young age of just 20. After being stopped on a terrible cut in his defence against Ismael Laguna, Ramos was matched with Sugar Ramos.
Sugar of Cuba, trained and cornered by Angelo Dundee, was a seasoned 28-year-old, and a former featherweight champion. Plenty of people felt Sugar would have too much skill and finesse for Mando. Also, with Sugar’s sharp and slashing punches, it was feared Mando would be as badly cut in this fight as he was in the loss to Laguna. Sugar had lost two 135 pound title challenges of Carlos Ortiz, being stopped in both fights (the first time controversially), yet he had won four straight before the clash with Mando.
The stage was set.
The ten-round elimination bout of August 6, 1970 (readily available on YouTube, praise the Lord!) is truly jaw-dropping to watch. The opening round, the only session that came close to being “calm,” was a precursor for what was to come, a warm-up for the fighters as well as for the fans. Round two saw the fight already elevated to legendary status. This battle saw two men, respectful yet full of fire, taking one another into deep, deep trenches, the only escape to go down or see it through to the final bell.
If the famed ninth round between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward is for some people, “The Round of The Century,” then round-seven of Ramos Vs. Ramos tops it. And this from a fight that had at least four or five rounds that were deserving of Round of The Year accolades.
The two men met in mid-ring once again, trading wicked shots. Sugar was hurt first, visibly. Fighting his young foe off as best he could with his fine left jab, Sugar soaked up too many shots to be able to count without the aid of slow-motion. Then Sugar came back. Mando was hurt worse than his adversary had been, stuck on the ropes and pounded on. Mando did everything but go down. Then, somehow, the young phenom came back himself! This was just too much to comprehend, even for the knowledgeable crowd. Sugar was cracked hard at the bell. Three more rounds remained.
But writing about this fight doesn’t do it justice – watch Ramos Vs. Ramos now, or at the very least watch round-seven.
By the end, Mando was covered with blood, both men were shattered yet still burning with desire, and the fans had witnessed a fight they would never forget. Mando Ramos picked up the split decision win.
50 years on, we might not have seen a greater lightweight fight. And as you know, that’s saying something.
Neither Ramos is still with us – Mando passing away at just 59, this in 2008, Sugar leaving us in 2017, aged 75. But if they were here, it’s almost certain both warriors would remember the fight they had against each other more so than any of their other excellent fights.