IN the beer garden of The Globe in Hackney, Maurice Hope is biting down on an imaginary gumshield and whaling away with boulder-like fists, complete with sound effects – “BAM! BAM! BAM!” People watching probably think he’s an old toughie telling tales of street fights, but the truth is rather different.
The man on the end of those blows is – and was – the great Wilfred Benitez, whom Hope fought in Las Vegas in 1981. That afternoon at Caesars Palace was the best and worst of times for Hope, a fabulous payday that ended with a brutal defeat, the loss of his world title and a miserable night in hospital. But Hope had been hit with harder things than Benitez’s wand of a right hand.
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