Lightweight champion Alexis Arguello and junior welterweight champ Aaron Pryor fight tonight in Miami for Pryor's title. Sugar Ray Leonard, who announced his retirement from the ring Tuesday night, had these views on the fight.By Sugar Ray Leonard
Alexis Arguello vs. Aaron Pryor is a natural fight: the classic boxer, Arguello, against the savage puncher, Pryor. If you're a betting person, it's a fight you'll bet on and it's a fight in which anything can happen.
Arguello is more of a technician in the ring than Pryor. He's a standup fighter with the ability to come back strong after a knockdown, which is good because he starts off very slowly. He has the experience to deal with any kind of fighter -- orthodox boxer, slugger or a guy who is mobile -- because he's able to cut off the ring.
Arguello's physical ability is superior to Pryor's. He's always in tremendous shape and he has a height and reach advantage; Arguello is 5-foot-9 1/2 with a 72-inch reach and Pryor is 5-7 with a 70-inch reach. Age and experience may also be a factor, with Arguello having gone through many fights that began ruggedly. Now, he's in shape and has the ability to keep his cool.
In the ring, Pryor is in perpetual motion, constantly coming at his opponent. He's rough and his punches are unpredictable.
But Pryor wastes energy throwing punches that aren't really needed. Also, he has a tendency to showboat and he doesn't always get away with it because he leaves himself open and he goes to the canvas.
Still, Pryor can punch at any angle, probably because of his knowledge of martial arts. His power is in both hands, with a very good left hook and right hand, and he's an excellent body puncher.
Pryor's left hook is far more damaging because he gets inside to throw it. In fact, he has to get inside because of his height.
Arguello's assets are his left hook and overhand right and he, too, is a very good body puncher. In other words, he's an all-around boxer; he has everything. His right hand relies on the left jab; his left hook relies on the uppercut.
Arguello doesn't have much hand speed for a lighter fighter, but he compensates for that with accuracy. He's not fast on his feet, but he's always in position to punch, always on balance.
If he gets in too much trouble he'll utilize the ring quite well, but he's not constantly on his toes or moving laterally. He's just there.
Pryor is very elusive. He's not really that easy to hit, though at times he gets hit by inferior opponents. That's because he gets cocky.
If I were Pryor, I'd go straight after Arguello and make sure my defense was up to par. I wouldn't waste punches and if I should knock him down, I'd go right back to the body, wear him down and eventually go to the head.
I would tell Pryor, "Take your time, don't waste yourself and watch for the uppercut because Arguello will throw the uppercut, snap your chin up and follow with the straight right."
If I were Arguello, I'd concentrate on counterpunching, using the left jab to keep Pryor off balance. Every time Pryor came in, I'd stick the jab in his face and throw off his rhythm, make him fight at my pace.
Pryor has a very fast pace, so slowing it down would be to Arguello's advantage. Pryor's hands are faster but Arguello's punches are more accurate, and as far as power is concerned, Alex gets more leverage but Aaron just punches harder.
The key to this fight will be who takes charge, who gets off first, who establishes respect. The object is to make the other guy think, don't let him get momentum. If he throws a punch he's going to get hit; make him reluctant.
Both fighters will be tense at the beginning, with Pryor probably the more tense because Arguello has been there before.
Pryor will try to compensate with tough guy antics. The first round he'll run over to Arguello and try to nail him. Arguello will retaliate, cover up and take quite a few shots. He may do this for two or three rounds and if Arguello goes down and is hurt, it's likely Pryor will take him out.
But if Arguello should survive -- and I know he's capable of it -- he'll get up, go back to his plan and get just as mean as Pryor.
By then Pryor should be tired, having wasted lots of energy. If his arm gets weary, he'll dance around and try to make it look better. Arguello will chase him, cut the ring off and more than likely get him out of there, or put him down.
I think Pryor will win, because he's going to take the fight to Arguello, knock him down and take him out. Arguello has been knocked down by guys his own weight and he got back up. But he's fighting a bigger, stronger and wilder man. And that is very important.