Before the fifth started, Terry Lawless, Watt's manager-trainer, was yelling for more resin. The Wembley arena had a new ring, and its floor was treacherously slippery, as Arguello discovered in the first round when a glancing right hand from Watt put him off balance and he slid into the ropes. The Scottish banners rose high to a huge, skirling howl, but Arguello was quick to grin and right himself.
It might have been more appropriate for Lawless to yell for mercy. It was plain now that Watt was going to find it hard to win. In the seventh, Arguello caught him with a far-traveled left hook and put him down for a mandatory eight count. The end might have come then, except that Watt showed his elegant ability to slip an opponent on the ropes. The speed, though, which had beaten the so-promising Davis in Glasgow a year earlier, was no longer there.
In the eighth, surprisingly, there came a change of rhythm as Arguello appeared to decide briefly to stop chasing Watt, and in the ninth Watt caught him with a couple of right crosses that seemed to shake him. But by then Watt was bleeding from the nose, and in the next round he was cut under the left eye. "Step up! Step up! Fight him!" Lawless was yelling now. And for three more rounds, showing an ample fund of strength and courage, Watt took all the punishing lefts Arguello could throw and countered with hard-crossed lefts of his own. And so to the end and that emotional clinging together in the ring. There was no need to wait for the unanimous result, only for Watt's honest words. "I have no complaints," he said. "I hope I went out like a man. The title is in good hands."
Arguello was late, very late to his post-fight celebration—not only because no limo had arrived to collect him and he had to go out and find a cab, but also because he had needed a lot of work on his eyes in the dressing room.
And they still looked a patched and puffy mess—those right jabs of Watt's had meant something—when he finally made it to his hotel and to a decorous gathering. His respect for Watt was still in his voice and his words. "His counterpunching was the problem," Arguello said. "His resistance, his physical condition, was so great. You have to be born with something. Jim was born with guts."
And then, entirely sincere if a little sentimental, Arguello had the last right word. "I promised Jim," he said, "I defend the title for him with my blood and my heart."