"I'm going to move, but I'm not going to move that much," Leonard says. "The first time I didn't move at all, except the first round and the last few. Just a little bit of movement made a lot of difference. I actually had him reaching for me. He was reaching up for me and coming in low with his head down. I see it now and I say, 'Damn, why didn't you throw punches?' I was just moving away." Duran ducked under countless hooks and right hands. "I was trying to nail him then, but they were bad punches," Leonard says. "When he comes in now, I'll bring the punches under. He can't duck uppercuts, especially when they're perfectly timed. These are the key punches I'll be using."
He'll be using them coming off the ropes, says his trainer, Angelo Dundee, working them to the body as he pivots left and right. One enduring memory of the first fight is of Leonard being driven to the ropes and standing there, his legs spread apart as he covered up, then fighting back and trying to survive. "I was forced into the ropes," Leonard says. "I never thought about doing something different. Just fight back." With legs spread, he could do little else. "He was spread too far," Dundee says. "He couldn't get away."
In sparring sessions Dundee has Leonard pivoting off the ropes, throwing uppercuts and constantly changing the angle at which he faces an opponent; he urges his fighter to avoid staying directly in front of the man. "You play checkers," Dundee says. Dundee also has Leonard working the jab to the head and body. Leonard is trying to shorten his hook. "Everything has got to be short and timed perfectly," Leonard says. "You don't realize how elusive he is."
Leonard came to realize it all too well in Montreal, and since he began intensive training the first of November he's been at work trying to make use of what he learned there. "It will be a war," he says, and he doesn't doubt that prediction, even if some respected boxing men disagree. "I came away [from Montreal] with the impression that this was the greatest possible effort Duran could have made," says veteran Manager/Trainer Cus D'Amato, who guided Floyd Patterson to the heavyweight title. "What Duran did that night was what he had to do to win. It seemed a supreme effort. I don't think he'll be able to duplicate it."
"Bull," says Duran with a contemptuous shrug. On the contrary, he says, he expects to be even tougher in New Orleans than he was in Montreal. "Look, for him to beat me, he still has a lot of learning to do," Duran says. "He can't beat me in this rematch. In the first match I won and I was sick."
"He was with a cold," says Duran's personal doctor, Orlando Nuñez. "All his muscles were sore."
"I didn't say anything because I didn't want anyone to say I was making up excuses," the champion insists. "I stayed quiet. I'm prepared for him now. I haven't hit him like I'm going to this time. Sure, he took my punches, but I was sick. I was tired from the fifth round on. I couldn't do a thing. I kept going and going and going. I had no force behind my punches. I want him to take what I have for him now."
It matters not a whit what adjustments Leonard plans to make, Duran asserts, because there is really nothing he can do to make a difference. "Leonard says he is going to box, move, slip, dance," Duran says. "He's not going to do a damn thing. He says he's going to be faster, slip and sway, throw hooks, uppercut more. He can do whatever he wants, but there is one problem: once in the ring, you can't get out. To hit me, he has to stop to hit me. So there. If he didn't do anything in the first one, he's going to do less in this one...."
Indeed, there is a line of thought that goes like this: if Leonard goes to the balls of his feet, he's playing with fire. He must come up with something better. "If he does that, he may get knocked out," says Gil Clancy, a longtime manager and trainer. "The way for him to beat Duran is to back Duran up. If he can't make Duran back up, he's not going to win the fight."