A moment later, Hadley, while trying to ward off another assault, accidentally catches Leonard in the right eye. Grimacing, Leonard steps back, pawing at the eye. Then, in a cold fury, he moves in and rips tight, vicious hooks deep into Hadley's side. "God, when he hits you like that it's awesome," Abraham says. "And it's always in the same place." Lightly, Abraham jabs a finger into a listener's body, low, just a shade below the rib cage.
The round lasts 9½ minutes.
The following day Leonard was committed to appear on the Tonight Show in L.A., which Bill Cosby was guest-hosting. So, except for his usual 4:30 a.m. run, he took the day off. A little after 3 p.m., he and four friends flew to Los Angeles.
Flying doesn't appeal to Leonard. By talking about the fight he was able to take his mind off being at 38,000 feet. He had a window seat, but he rarely looked out.
His thoughts were on the first Duran fight, the one he lost in Montreal. "All that pressure," he said, shaking his head. "It was the first time I was in a position like that. Like Hearns is now. He's going to taste it. It's uncomfortable, it really is. He said it won't bother him. I said the same thing. But it eventually got to me. It bothers everyone until you've gone through it once. I'm interested to see how he handles it."
Another theory in Hearns's camp is that Leonard is no longer hungry, that he has lost his appetite for fighting. Leonard laughed. "Hungry for what? They use money against me because that's all they have. But I like to win, period. I like the sport; I like the artistry of boxing. I like the challenge. I like the competition. I like it when they say I can't beat a fellow, and then when I beat him I look forward to the excuses they make. If it's only money, why is Pete Rose still playing? Why is Tony Dorsett still playing? I want this fight bad. The same as Duran Two. I wanted him bad the second fight. I know what I can do now and I can do it even better because of the experience. I didn't want the Hearns fight just to beat him; I wanted this fight so I can show the world just how good I really am. Hungry? I'm darn hungry."
The two champions are in the final round now. Past the 10th, but not yet to the 15th. Hearns has been taking a fierce beating to the body. He has been missing wildly all night, and when he misses, he leaves himself woefully off-balance. For an instant after he throws a jab, his back foot is off the floor, making him a one-legged fighter. When he misses, Hearns rebounds with a backhand, as much to recover his balance as to distract his opponent.
"That's when Ray will nail him," Morton said. "To the body, kidney shots, under the heart. Steward taught Tommy how to punch. But he forgot to teach him how to duck."
Still trying, Hearns throws a jab. Leonard swats it aside with his left hand and, stepping in smartly, arcs a right to the jaw.
After that, all they have to do is go to the bank.