Almost with a snarl, Frias leaped to the attack. Quickly, a hook to the head wobbled Mancini, and he struggled to stay erect. As Frias lunged to press his advantage, Mancini, bent low, fired a right hand to the head, stopping Frias cold. Then Mancini grabbed and held until his head cleared.
When they broke, they went at each other with both hands. A Frias right caught Mancini high on the head, ripping open the eyelid; a Mancini right hook un-zippered the scar tissue holding Frias' left cheek together. Both men seemingly swayed on the edge of disaster.
With his back to the ropes, Frias unleashed a blistering flurry. As Frias stepped forward, Mancini stunned him with a hook to the head. Frias backed off and stopped punching. Mancini was on him with two more hooks, missing with a right but slamming home a hook to the head that dropped the champion.
As Frias struggled to his feet at the count of seven, an image of last September's Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns fight flashed through Mancini's head. He recalled how Leonard, through the sheer volume of punches thrown, had forced Referee Davey Pearl to stop that fight in the 14th round. He could feel the power surging through his body.
When Green let the fight resume, there were 32 seconds left in the round. Mancini drilled Frias with a right and then drove him against the ropes with a barrage of hooks from both sides. Frias, his hands down, was helpless. As Mancini's relentless attack passed the 30-punch mark, Green moved in to stop the bout. The 33rd punch was a left hook to the head, the 34th a straight right thrown over the interceding arms of Green with 10 seconds remaining.
It took Green four more seconds to walk Mancini away from Frias and to signal that he had stopped the fight. It was officially over at 2:54.
In just 22 seconds Mancini had fired 34 punches, few missing. "In that remaining 10 seconds he could have hit him 12 to 15 more times," said Dave Wolf, Mancini's manager. "I can't believe the number of punches he threw in that round. The most he ever threw before was 169.1 know he bettered that."
Green's decision to stop it when he did was unquestionably correct. "I wasn't aware of the time, but it wouldn't have mattered," he said. "I looked at him and his eyes were rolling in his head. He could have been another Benny Paret [the welterweight champion who died after being knocked senseless by Emile Griffith in 1962]. Better a loss on his record and him still able to fight tomorrow."
Frias disagreed mildly. "I was stunned but I never lost track of what was going on," he said. "I heard somebody in my corner yell 10 seconds, and I just relaxed, trying to get my composure back."
After the fight Mancini went to the hospital, where eight stitches were taken to close his eyelid. The doctors ordered him not to spar for six weeks, which means he won't be fighting Espa�a or anyone else before August. He had been chasing the title for himself and for Lenny since Oct. 18, 1979. He had earned the vacation.