Aaron Pryor vs. Gary Hinton

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Pryor throws a right at Hinton.

1985-03-02 : Aaron Pryor 140 lbs beat Gary Hinton 140 lbs by SD in round 15 of 15

  • IBF Junior Welterweight Championship (2nd defense by Pryor)


  • The fight was promoted by Sylvester Stallone's Tiger Eye Promotions. [1]
  • Pryor's second wife, Theresa, divorced him the day before the fight. [2]
  • This was Pryor's last title fight. He was stripped of the IBF title in December 1985 due to inactivity.

By Michael Katz | New York Times | March 3, 1985

ATLANTIC CITY, March 2— Aaron Pryor returned from what he called "the twilight zone" and grittily pulled out a split 15-round decision today over an inspired Philadelphia fighter named Gary Hinton to remain undefeated and the International Boxing Federation's junior-welterweight champion.

The 29-year-old champion was weak from two days of fasting, rusty from no matches in eight months and his head was ringing from an inadvertent second-round butt. He was trailing on all three official scorecards after eight rounds, hardly resembling the fighter who twice knocked out Alexis Arguello, and then retired in 1983.

"That ain't the old Aaron Pryor," said Bill Costello, who holds the World Boxing Council's 140-pound title. "The sting's not there. He definitely can't beat me; my mouth is watering."

"Pryor's performance did not please me," said Matthew Saad Muhammad, the former light-heavyweight champion who was also at ringside for the nonstop action at the Sands Hotel and Casino. "The long layoff hurt him. Hinton just doesn't have the punching power to be a champion."

Some of the Old Pryor

There was some of the old Pryor, though, especially the relentless pressure attack and the indomitable spirit that eventually wore down the 28- year-old challenger.

Pryor's combination of left hook and straight right hand, both punches arriving almost simultaneously, scored the bout's only knockdown in the 14th round.

But Hinton, who had lost a close decision to Pryor when they were amateurs nine years ago, still would not quit.

"When I hit him with that punch," said Pryor, "I thought I was going home early. But he got up and said we're going 15 rounds."

At the end, one of the judges, Phil Newman, who gave Hinton seven of the first eight rounds, had the challenger ahead, 143-141, on the 10-point scoring system. But the other judges, Frank Cairo, by 143-141, and Lawrence Wallace, by a questionable margin of 146-139, disagreed. Pryor is now 36-0 with 32 knockouts. Hinton, who has scored only 10 knockouts, is 23-3-1.

Making Weight Tough Bout

Pryor, who had fought only once in the 17 months since his second knockout of Arguello, may have had his toughest battle before the bout, just making the 140-pound limit. He had to get up early this morning to shed another pound before the weigh-in.

Pryor knew he was rusty, too. He said it was "the same thing as taking a week off and coming back to your job, you know it's hard."

Then the accidental butt, which left a knot just below the hairline above the right eye, hurt Pryor in the second round. Eddie Aliano, his cut man, kept the blood from bothering the champion, but Pryor said the ensuing headache was like being "in the twilight zone."

"You guys don't have to worry about seeing me out tonight," he said, holding his head, at the post-fight news conference.

'Only Been Hurt Twice'

"I've only been hurt twice in my life," he told Hinton, "and this was one."

It took him a few moments before he could remember Arguello's name to reveal the other.

Hinton was effective not only with that accidental butt. His jabs and straight lefts were reaching Pryor constantly. He twisted and turned away from Pryor's familiar full-speed-ahead attack, making the champion miss wildly and then countered effectively. Several times in the early rounds, he stunned the champion. A better puncher, like Costello, might indeed have ended Pryor's unbeaten streak.

Hinton admitted he got "a little tired," but that he really was "coasting."

"I thought I had the fight in the bag," he said.

Pryor never stopped. He says now he is not fighting for money - he earned a reported $300,000 today to Hinton's $50,000 - but for pride.

Quit or Fight for Title

"That thing went through my mind that goes through a lot of fighters, 'Do I want to quit or do I want the title?' " he said.

His punches were mainly taps early in the fight, but as the bout progressed, Pryor began to land harder and harder blows, especially to the body. He said he was "distracted" because Referee Rudy Battle constantly warned him for low blows against a man who was wearing his trunks almost high enough to ward off chest colds. But Pryor did enough punching early so that after eight rounds, while Hinton may have been ahead, he was no longer dancing. Slowly but surely, Pryor wore him down.

Afterwards, he complimented Hinton, saying, "I don't want a rematch," and said his head would need at least three months to recuperate. [3]