DURST: The Debates

You could cut the excitement with a soggy bar coaster in Hartford, Connecticut's Bushnell Theatre; site of the first of two preliminary bouts leading up to the Heavyweight Championship of The Free World. The challenger, looking remarkably fit, ignored the defending champ's trademark swagger, and started the bout with a series of body blows that, truth be told, wouldn't have tested a West Virginia state Assembly also ran.The champ struck back with a flurry of feathery accusations that missed, but their breeze did cause the challenger's corner a few anxious moments. Then they both got busy bobbing and weaving punches that were either pulled or never thrown. It went on like that until the two warriors were exhausted, with the only blows struck being those that were walked into.To paraphrase the Greatest, "there was a lot of floating like butterflies, and not much stinging by bees." It was the nicest fight this reporter has seen in a long time. Ignoring the cries of "Fix" that reverberated throughout the auditorium after the split decision, the two gladiators ducked the chairs being thrown at them and walked out arm in arm. Alive to fight another day.Will Durst didn't expect a real knockdown, but both guys taking dives was a surprise.

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