Of that there's no doubt. "Hagler has never been in the ring with a fighter of Duran's quality," Sharnik says. "I pick Hagler, but I could see Duran winning the fight. He could win by a knockout. Ask Moore. Duran's a finisher. "If he feels he has shaken Hagler, forget it. Boxing is 90 percent in the head. If he sees it's within his grasp, he'll seize it. He soars. If he hurts Hagler, he'll be on a high. Here is a guy who can move, think, counter and fight and is motivated by more than money. He was an outcast." And should he win, he would be the first fighter in history to win four titles.
"I give Duran a hell of a shot," Arcel says. "Boxing's a very strange business. God didn't make the chin to be punched."
Brown is certain about who will win: "I got to pick Duran. I got confidence in him. I know how much guts he's got, how hard he can punch and how much ability he has. Very smart. You can hit him, but you're going to get hit back. And you'll know you've been hit." Like others who pick Duran, Brown remembers the 1979 draw between Hagler and then-middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo, in whose corner Brown was working.
Hagler had trouble coping when Antuofermo pressed him and eventually lost control of the fight. "Vito got right on top of him, pressing him, facing him, making him fight," Brown says. "Hagler doesn't like that. That's why Vito gave him all that trouble. Duran's a better in-fighter than Vito. He's as strong as Vito. Duran's a harder puncher and not as easy to hit. Vito was easy to hit. This is a real good fight for Duran."
Still, most logic stands against Duran in this bout, but perhaps there's something more compelling here than logic. For Duran, the themes are larger, more passionate. Hagler is involved in a career, while Duran is involved in a quest. Hagler is fighting to retain his title, while Duran is fighting for history. He believes, if he wins, that he will be considered the greatest fighter of all time. "I'm going to be it," he says. "I am, and I will be it." He believes, too, that if he wins, his dream of Leonard returning will remain alive. You see, he is really fighting Hagler to get to Leonard. "That is true," Duran says. There's no other way home.