During the bouts at Maurice Richard Arena, a sensible protocol prevailed. When a Cuban was fighting, Sagarra did the talking between rounds in the corner, while Clough administered the water and towels; when a U.S. fighter was up, the two coaches switched roles. The battle for the Cup quickly came down to North America vs. an all-Soviet team designated as Europe I (there also was a Europe II team consisting entirely of Bulgarians), and this produced the odd spectacle of Cubans cheering for U.S. boxers to knock out Russians. Many Americans in the crowd similarly cheered for the Cubans, with one exception. As the host country, Canada had been allowed to enter its own team, whose star, Toronto's lead-with-the-chin Shawn O'Sullivan, made it to the finals. After twice taking eight counts in the first round, the gritty O'Sullivan, a light welterweight, roared back to decision another Cuban Olympic gold medalist, Armando Martinez, to the crowd's thunderous approval. The U.S. spectators got swept up in the O'Sullivan fever for the same reason they'd previously cheered Cubans: In this strange World Cup competition, sport was above other allegiances.
Herrera, Gomez and two other Cubans won individual titles. Three U.S. boxers advanced to the finals, and while only heavyweight Carl Williams won, it was his unanimous decision over Aleksandr Jagubkin of the U.S.S.R. that clinched the team victory for North America, 41 points to the Soviet Union's 36, with Canada and South America next with 10 apiece. At a binational victory party in a Montreal hotel, it was agreed that Cuba would keep the World Cup trophy for a year, then send it to the U.S. There was also talk about a trip to Havana by a U.S. boxing team scheduled for late February. "But we'll be enemies then," said an American. Replied a Cuban: "Only in the ring."
THE MIGHTY (5-11) GREY CUP FINALIST
The fact that the Cincinnati Reds, with the best regular-season record in baseball, failed to qualify for the 1981 postseason playoffs demonstrated just how flawed the major leagues' split-season format was and raised the embarrassing question: What did all those regular-season games mean, anyway? But then, the same question can be asked in other sports. The latest case in point is the Canadian Football League, in which six of the nine teams make it into the post-season chase for the Grey Cup, Canada's equivalent of the Super Bowl.
This year's CFL playoff qualifiers included the Ottawa Rough Riders, who were 5-11 during the regular season. No matter. The Rough Riders beat the Montreal Alouettes, who had an even worse 3-13 record, in the Eastern Division semifinal and then upset the heavily favored Hamilton Tiger-Cats 17-13 in the division finals on a fourth-quarter pass that resulted in a touchdown when two Hamilton defensive backs collided. That put Ottawa in Sunday's Grey Cup against the Edmonton Eskimos, who boasted a 14-1-1 regular-season record and were 22�-point favorites to win an unprecedented fourth straight Grey Cup. The Roughriders led the faltering Eskimos 20-1 at halftime only to lose 26-23 on an Edmonton field goal with three seconds to go in the game, thereby failing in their bid to outdo the rags-to-riches story of the 1937-38 Chicago Black Hawks, who won the Stanley Cup despite a regular-season record of 14-25-9.