In the sixth round, however, Duran leaped in, caught Viruet with a hook to the body and shook him with a right to the head. Teeth bared, Viruet fought back and hooked the champion to the body, then to the head.
Duran muscled his rival to the ropes and began to pound him with both hands. When he missed with a punch, Duran sometimes followed with an elbow. Hurt and angry, Viruet, who hadn't fought in almost a year, battled back. For better than two minutes it was street fury against street fury, neither man giving a step. At the bell, Referee Arthur Mercante leaped between the two to stop them. The crowd of 17,125 fans stood and cheered for more.
They didn't get another round like the sixth, but Duran knew by the end that he had been in a fight. Although the decision was unanimous, Judge Artie Aidala gave Viruet four rounds. Tony Castellano had it 7-3, while Mercante scored it 7-2-1 Duran.
It was then that Edwin Viruet leaped into the ring and tried to get at the champion, and Duran tried to get at Edwin. The only casualty was 72-year-old Ray Arcel, Duran's other trainer, who was pushed to the floor as people rushed to intercept the two fighters.
"He hit my brother low four times," Edwin said later.
"I would have hit Edwin low if all those people didn't get in my way," Duran said later.
Overlooked was the fact that Edwin hadn't managed to hit Duran in 25 rounds; if he had done it this time, Duran would doubtless have won again.
And then they all left the Garden, Duran to look for an ice-cream store and Eleta to sign title fights with Alexis Arguello, the WBC junior lightweight champion, and with Antonio Cervantes, the WBA junior welterweight champ. The purses for these bouts should establish Duran as a millionaire.
"After those two fights, he can play all the shortstop he wants," said Eleta. "I may even try and get him a tryout with the Cubs."