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For Mills Lane, who refereed the brawling, bloody middleweight title fight which preceded the Leonard-Benitez bout at Caesars Palace, the outcome was as apparent as the many cuts on Vito Antuofermo's craggy face. Moving quickly to the corner of Marvin Hagler, Mills directed the challenger to turn and face the ABC-TV cameras. "Congratulations," Mills murmured. "Now stay facing this way until they announce the decision and I raise your arm."
Across the way, little Freddie Brown, the ancient cutman, was busily anointing Antuofermo's torn features with his magic wound solution. There were six cuts; 25 stitches would be required to close four of them.
"You win it in the last round," Brown rasped, working swiftly. He didn't want Vito—a 4-1 underdog in his first title defense—to be bleeding when they told him he was still champion.
But surely the referee and the bettors were right and Brown was not.
And then they read the astonishing decision:
Judge Dalby Shirley: 144-142 for Antuofermo.
Judge Duane Ford: 145-141 for Hagler.
And Judge Hal Miller: 143-143.
A draw. And draws go to the champion.
The champion's style is neo-caveman. Pressure is his game. He simply lowers his head and charges, and once inside he rains blows with unrelenting fury. It is a style that had won the 26-year-old ex-sausage grinder 45 of 49 fights (with one draw) and the WBC-WBA title (from Hugo Corro) last June. The Hagler bout brought him $190,000. His opponent was paid $40,000.