They were facing each other in the center of the ring, Gregorio Benitez, who is called Goyo, and his son, Wilfred, and for the moment things seemed just as they once were—back in the days before the rebellion set in, when Wilfred was a boy and his father's was the only law he knew.
It was a warm, windy mid-December afternoon. The ring was in the backyard gym at the Benitez home in Saint Just, Puerto Rico, about 18 miles south of San Juan, and Wilfred Benitez was training to defend his WBC junior middleweight title against Roberto Duran in Las Vegas on Jan. 30. He had won the championship last May 23 when he caught Maurice Hope with a jackhammer right that left Hope unconscious for several minutes. Now once again the father was training his son, as he has since he first laced gloves on the boy 15 years ago when Wilfred was eight.
"But I think he'll throw me mostly rights," Wilfred said quietly.
"No, no," Goyo said. " Duran will fake his right and hook you with the left. Like this." Wilfred stepped back and nodded. "Si, si," he said. "I've seen him do that."
"Let's go!" Goyo said.
The father was wearing the heavily padded mitts trainers use to catch punches, and the son tracked him stoically about the ring, the father raising and dropping and shifting the targets of his hands. The son bobbed and came up throwing at them, snapping punches in fiery combinations. The father exhorted him to throw hard: "�Duro! �Duro!"
Wilfred has the reflexes of a mongoose, and now he was throwing uppercuts in sets of five, his father facing him, telling him to punch harder: "�M�s duro! �Duro! Come on. Let's go!" The punches came rapidly—left-right-left-right-left. Goyo cried out for Wilfred to do it again: "�De nuevo!" And harder! The effect was hypnotic, like watching partners in a dance performed to the stinging slap of the son's gloves and the father's voice.
"�De nuevo!" Pow-pow-pow-pow.
"�Duro...! �De nuevo...! �Duro...! �De nuevo!"