Pryor describes his style as an explosion. "He seems to gain strength from adverse situations," Steward says. "It seems he's against everybody in the world and everybody is against him. But from all his troubles and frustrations comes this incredible energy."
On Friday night it didn't take long for the incredible energy to explode in the first round. Pryor dashed from his corner and was throwing punches before he reached Arguello, who bravely tried to stem the assault with right-hand counterpunches. Twice Pryor was stopped briefly, and twice he drove at Arguello again. After two stiff jabs, a sharp right cross caught Arguello flush and dropped him. Frowning, Arguello regained his feet. "You all right?" Steele asked. Arguello nodded. "Hold your hands up and let me see."
Pryor rushed in, but before the round was over Arguello had nailed him with two right hands and a hook, giving Pryor pause.
Working grimly, Arguello established a thin edge with right-hand counters in the second and third rounds, and before the fourth Steward told Pryor, "You got to get close. Don't throw the right hand from so far back. He's just waiting for it."
Pryor struck quickly. He unleashed a six-punch flurry that ended with a short, sweeping hook that sent Arguello once more to the floor. After the challenger regained his feet, Pryor moved in behind a flood of punches. Halfway through the round another right staggered Arguello. Pryor then seemed to tire, and in the last 50 seconds Arguello made a strong comeback. Pryor fought the next four rounds almost in slow motion as he showed a growing respect for Arguello's right. In the eighth, Arguello was scoring well but then was penalized a point for low blows, which landed often enough to cause Pryor to complain.
After that, Pryor took over. He went after Arguello in the ninth with a vengeance and, when he returned to his corner. Steward, who had been urging him to pick up the pace, greeted him with an approving nod. "You're getting in the right hand," Steward said, "but then you're pulling back your head. Shoot the right and then come back with the short left."
In his own corner, Arguello was wondering how much punishment he could take. As in the first fight, he had hit Pryor with some stunning right hands, but each time Pryor shook them off. When the 10th-round bell rang, Arguello sighed and got to his feet. He would only have to work a minute and 48 seconds more.
Heeding Steward, Pryor began shooting in short lefts behind his right hand. As Arguello backed off, Pryor unloaded a string of jabs, caught his target flush with a right, fired each hand twice and then snapped Arguello's head back with a crunching left uppercut flush against the jaw. Arguello sagged against the ropes and went down on his right knee; he shook his head and then sat. As Steele reached 10, he got up wearily and went to his corner, where he was met by Oscar Seary, who has worked his corner for years. "The carnival is over," Arguello said. Then, turning to Miller, he added, "The mother is just too strong."
Later, his eyes wet with tears and puffed and reddened by Pryor's fists, Arguello faced his public with pride. "I did my best. I feel good about it," he said. "He was just too strong. When I went down the second time, I thought, 'My God, what's happening?' Then the next round I hit him with a couple of good shots and nothing happened, and I thought, 'Jesus, he's not human.' It takes something out of you. In the last round I was pushing myself real hard. Sure I was hurt, but I could have got up. But I didn't want to risk my life. I decided to protect myself. I thought to myself: That's it."
"Why are you crying?" someone asked.