Probably never have cardiologists had their diagnoses justified so dramatically as Roberto Duran did on Friday night for the specialists who termed him combat-ready after a two-hour scan on Tuesday.
Sugar Ray Leonard's feverish symptoms the same day evolved into a mild form of amnesia. He forgot his dancing lessons on Friday night. He did fulfill the prophecy of one Mushy Salow, once the manager of Bob Foster, who said, "Leonard will become a 'professional' against Duran."
The bout between the immensely popular welterweights was crying for a "heavy." Muhammad Ali used to be his own casting director. In his scenarios it was him and his henchmen against the world . . . racism . . . the armed forces . . . the government . . . the referee . . . the promoters . . . the media . . . a la George Allen.
Duran, because he does not speak English, has to do it in mime, but his minions get the message. He "Bogarts" the gringos and makes them like it as indulgently as the movie star's fans relished his "camp" villainy.
He brawls to the beat of salsa (hot sauce) music on his bongo drums; in moments of repose he romances to the meter of the poetry and bossa nova compositions written by his multimillionaire mananger of many parts, Carlos Eleta, whos "History of Love" is a standard on pop radio stations.
It will be Mardi Gras all over again today in Panama, where the celebration of Duran's taking the title away from Leonard will transcend the mere acquisition of the Canal from "Tio Azacaro (Uncle Sugar)."
One North American happily anticipating a bigger balance of payments deficit for the United States is Don King, the promoter of most of Duran's fights who now will be insisting on the champion's control of purses and other terms.
Duran picked up a foil he could fence with at his post fight news conference -- Wilfred Benitez -- and fights were threatening to break out all over the press room as the new champion and his handlers didn't have to worry what insults they exchanged in Spanish.
He brandished the championship belt that Leonard had posed with for the television cameras in the dressing room before the bout, as if it were a security blanket.
It is serving nicely as a conversation piece for him now on the U.S. talk shows. Whether the scoring that awarded it to Duran was fair you will be able to judge for yourself when the tape is shown on Wide World of Sports on July 19. Most fans can hardly wait.