Many years ago, live on air when calling the ferocious, bad blood battle between middleweights Roberto Duran and Iran Barkley, commentators Gil Clancy and Al Bernstein had a bet: would “Hands of Stone” and “The Blade” embrace or shake hands at the conclusion of their intense fight?
In truth, throughout boxing history, it has been a rare incident when two fighters have failed to shake hands and/or show mutual respect for one another after the fight. It’s a strange side of the sport for outsiders: how two men can hurl nasty insult after nasty insult at one another before a fight, even get into a physical confrontation before the legalised fight, but then, at the conclusion of warfare shake hands, embrace, even go out together for a beer or ten. That’s boxing – fighters forge a bond due to doing what they do.
There have been exceptions though, where two men have retained a dislike for one another even after settling their differences, or attempting to settle their differences, inside the ropes. The aforementioned Duran, for example, was still spitting out fire after his gruelling 15-round showdown with Sugar Ray Leonard; Duran famously shoving Leonard away from him that night in Montreal as Ray tried to extend his hand.
But that fight aside, fighters have almost always embraced after the fight (can you think of any other examples where this did not happen?) – and even Duran and Leonard became somewhat friendly, or at least mutually respectful eventually, at the time of their third fight. Even Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier sort of made peace after the brutality of “The Thrilla in Manila,” with Ali – who had all-but tortured Joe with his savage verbal abuse ahead of their three epic rumbles – stating for all to hear how Joe was “great.”
It’s rare for a grudge to remain in place for ever. Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake La Motta, who arguably took part in the most savage long-running rivalry in the sport, became friendly in their later years.
Which brings us to the upcoming Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch. The genuine and very nasty bad blood attached to this fight has grown and grown. Canelo is fuming over the things GGG has said about him being a cheat, while Golovkin is disgusted with the way Canelo has changed as a person and did cheat, causing the postponement of the original May date for the return.
Flat out, these two men do not like each other one bit. Both men are vowing to lay the other out and settle all arguments, but would even this end the rivalry, the dislike these two have for each other? Ask yourself this: will these two embrace in the ring at the conclusion of hostilities on the evening of September 15?
By the way, Clancy won the bet, as Duran and Barkley did shake hands after the Panamanian legend had sensationally upset the much younger Barkley to take the WBC middleweight belt.