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Sugar Ray's greatest comeback

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Ben Dirs | 08:16 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2012

Sugar Ray Leonard boxing special, BBC Radio 5 live, Tuesday 3 April, 1930-2045 BST

When I was a kid, my brother would dig out the old, tan boxing gloves from the cupboard under the stairs and we'd go mano-a-mano in the living room: me pretending to be Sugar Ray Leonard - the bolo punches, the Ali shuffle - my brother, his footwork somewhat encumbered by the fact he was fighting on his knees, playing the part of Marvin Hagler.

To me and many kids like me, Sugar Ray was perfection: pretty as a picture, mercury slick, hard as nails. But the truth was rather different. By Leonard's own admission, he was "out of control": a serial adulterer, a lush and in thrall to the white stuff. And we're not talking about sugar.

Leonard's story is a lesson in the destructive nature of fame. Of the fears and anxieties it breeds. Of the brittleness of our heroes. Of the grief behind those dazzling white teeth. Sugar Ray was never perfect, just like you or me.

"I came from a very poor background and all of a sudden I had global fame and fortune," says Leonard, speaking to BBC Sport on the 25th anniversary of his miraculous defeat of Hagler.

"It was all about me. I was on TV all the time, on posters and billboards, and I lost touch with reality. And it wasn't about Ray the friend or Ray the brother, it was about Ray 'the bank', I paid for everything. No-one ever asked: 'How was your day?' And it turned me into this numb and insensitive guy."

Sugar Ray Leonard

Leonard captured gold - and the hearts of Americans - at the Montreal Olympics

But when Leonard was forced into a retirement in 1982, a partially detached retina cutting him down in his physical prime, the sense of loss sent him wandering down a far darker path, from which he only recently emerged.

"I felt safe in the ring, the ring was my sanctuary," says Leonard. "But after I retired from boxing I found new friends who introduced me to cocaine. And cocaine made me totally uninhibited about anything.

"I wasn't going home to my family, I was messing around with girls, drinking excessively. And the more cocaine I did and the more I drank, the more relieved I felt. It lessened the pain, the anxiety.

"Even after the Hagler fight I went back to the alcohol. There was the time I was meant to meet Nelson Mandela in Monte Carlo. I flew in the night before and was out all night. I overslept and some police officers burst into my room and said 'Mr Mandela is waiting for you'."

Leonard was no stranger to domestic desolation. When he first burst into the public consciousness on winning gold at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, the myth that he fought with a silver spoon in his mouth quickly took hold. His first pro pay cheque, for an unprecedented $45,000, did nothing to dispel it.

Yet his father was an inveterate womaniser, just as Leonard turned out to be. His mother, from whom Leonard got his "firepower", was handy with a switchblade, including the time she plunged it into his father's back.

Roberto Duran

Leonard on Duran: "He was a Tasmanian devil - without question he outpsyched me."

Then there was the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of two trusted authority figures. "I suffered the pain for 30 years, it devoured me," says Leonard. "But now I've revealed it, I feel a weight off my shoulders, less pain in my stomach. And I truly believe it gave me power and strength in the ring, because that's where I felt safest. I controlled that environment."

In a startling section of his autobiography, Leonard describes the "serenity" that came over him before his first world title fight against Puerto Rican legend Wilfred Benitez, an undefeated two-weight world champion, in 1979.

"I never felt more alive and more authentic," says Leonard. "It was as if I entered a room where no-one else was permitted to go, a pure, almost indescribable sensation I could not attain anywhere else. I miss it terribly."

Leonard proved the cynics wrong by out-boxing and, more surprisingly to many, out-toughing Benitez before stopping him with six seconds to go in the 15th round. But, as is often the case in boxing, it was a monumental encounter with an unsettling postscript.

"About 10 years ago, I heard he was sick, but I didn't know to what degree," says Leonard. "He was like a ghost in the ring, you couldn't touch him. So when I saw him in his care home I couldn't believe what I was seeing. His mother said, 'Wilfred, do you know who this is?' He looked up and said, 'No, but I know he beat me'."

In 1980, Leonard first fought Panama's Robert Duran, a man who gave the impression of being almost feral. "He was a Tasmanian devil," says Leonard, "he was just so rude and crass. Without question he outpsyched me."

Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler

Leonard returned from a three-year hiatus to beat the formidable Hagler in 1987

Leonard's trainer, the recently-departed Angelo Dundee, told his charge to box. Leonard, desperate to prove his manhood, went toe-to-toe instead. "It was a fight, it wasn't a boxing match, and he won," says Leonard. "That fight was so violent, so brutal, I seriously contemplated retirement, and I was only 23."

Instead, Leonard signed for a rematch and his brother hatched the fabled master plan. "Roger said, 'Ray, make him mad, make people laugh at him and you can beat him'," says Leonard. "I looked at my brother like he was crazy. 'That's Roberto Duran! People don't laugh at Roberto Duran!'

"But during the fight I stuck my chin out, wound up the bolo punch and he got so frustrated. He quit, without realising the repercussions it would have on his legacy." 'Hands of Stone' had been reduced to sand and the words "no mas" ("no more") were prematurely chiselled as his epitaph.

Perversely, Leonard gained more credit for his defeat by Duran than for his victory in the rematch. "That first fight with Duran showed I had the guts and glory and heart to fight," says Leonard. "After the second fight I felt a little shortchanged. It was almost as if I hadn't been in the same ring as Duran."

So when Leonard was pitted against the freakish Tommy Hearns - a 6ft 1in welterweight with a 78in reach, what Dundee called "a fighting machine on stilts" - in 1981, it was 'The Hitman' who was installed as favourite.

"Tommy had a kamikaze mentality and had annihilated all his opponents," says Leonard. "The writers thought he was unbeatable. And some still thought that while Tommy was legitimate, I sold soda. Real fighters don't sell soda."

Sugar Ray Leonard and second wife Bernadette

Leonard has belatedly found domestic contentment with second wife Bernadette

Hearns skated into an early lead, so that entering the championship rounds Leonard was well behind on the judges' scorecards. Enter Dundee and perhaps the most famous motivational words in boxing history: "You're blowing it now, son, you're blowing it..."

"Angelo said the right things at the right time, without showing desperation and frustration," says Leonard. "I knew what he was talking about, he didn't have to say any more." Stirred into action, Leonard rained blows on Hearns from every conceivable angle, eventually stopping him in the 14th round.

Leonard fought once more before, fearing for his sight, hanging them up at the age of 26. Then, in 1984, he returned to fight the unheralded Kevin Howard, who floored him for the first time. "I won, but I didn't have it," says Leonard. "It took my heart, my love for the sport." And that, we all thought, was that - one of the great careers fizzling out in, of all places, Worcester, Massachusetts.

"When I decided to come back, everyone thought I was crazy," says Leonard. "And for a while, I thought I was, too. I'd had one fight in five years and I was coming back to fight Marvin Hagler, a man who hadn't lost a fight since 1976, a man who had beaten everybody from Duran to Hearns.

"But I saw something when Hagler fought [John] Mugabi. Mugabi, who was a puncher, a slugger, was able to outbox Hagler. So I knew that if I got into shape - not just physically, but mentally and spiritually - I could win.

"But when I first went to the gym and sparred with some young kids, they bested me. I got home and my wife said, 'Are you sorry you said yes to fighting Hagler?' She was right. It was scary during those times."

Hagler, for so long so bitter at Leonard's fame and fortune, relished the role of "bad dude" to his rival's "American sweetheart". "He's on an ego trip," said Hagler. "He sees me get all the attention and he wants that for himself. He has no business being in the ring right now. That's what I plan to show the world."

"Hagler was so formidable that most people were concerned about my health," says Leonard. "But my talent came back that night, 6 April 1987. Just in time."

Leonard had intended to go to war, as Hearns had done against Hagler two years earlier. But thanks to a late intervention from Dundee ("What? Are you nuts?!") and a sparring knockdown, Leonard wisely changed tack.

"He accused me of running," says Leonard. "He said I should have fought like Tommy Hearns. Well, he knocked Tommy Hearns out in three rounds. I utilised the ring, my hand speed. I did everything that was in my best interests.

"That was such a proud moment for me because I did the impossible. Tommy Hearns was a defining moment, but Hagler was such a personal triumph. I always tell kids, 'If you don't believe in yourself, no-one else will'."

Leonard went on "stalking his own youth", as Dundee so eloquently put it, winning world titles in five weight divisions and drawing a rematch with Hearns in 1989 (a fight Leonard readily admits Hearns should have won). But his greatest comeback was yet to come.

"There's no greater thing than to be a fighter and a champion," says Leonard. "It gives people inspiration, hope and courage. It's a powerful thing you transmit. But you also have to take care of yourself.

"I've been clean six years in July and I love who I am. Now I'm Ray and I'm Sugar Ray. Ray Leonard is the father who goes to the market to buy his groceries, but it's Sugar Ray who pays the bills."

Boxing, a sport that so often takes more than it gives a man, however great that man may be, has belatedly left Leonard in credit: Sugar Ray is back in style.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Excellent article but if I live to be a 100 (half way there) I will never know how he was awarded the fight against Hagler.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy "Hit Man" Hearns, Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran, John "The Beast" Mugabi, Marvellous Marvin Hagler - Has there ever been a better group of warriors ?

    But let me ask a question - would these guys have stayed with the original sugar - Sugar Ray Robinson ?

  • Comment number 4.

    Brilliant boxer, shame about his out of the ring lifestyle

  • Comment number 5.

    Such great memories of that period, so many great fighters across so many weights.

    Great read Ben.

  • Comment number 6.

    There are many men to whom the ring was a kind of salvation from the despair and desolation of their sense of self, Leonard's trials remind me of Nigel Benn's journey to hell and back, though obviously they are not comparable in the style of the way they went about their work in the ring. The only fighter who I think is comparable today is Floyd Mayweather, though I don't think the era has the same depth of quality, see CKatBBC, and he hasn't had to endure any attritional tests, or been forced to scrap. At the time I was fifteen when he fought Hagler, and my memory is vague about it, but I remember thinking how complete a fighter he seemed, super slick, super fast, too good looking, granite jawed, because he took some good punches from the best, I loved Hagler but I think like me the judges were blinded by the style, it was poetry, it was only when I saw some Clay/Ali fights later that I saw that same sense of rhythm and grace

  • Comment number 7.

    Great fighter... no doubt about it. There's no way though that he deserved the win -v- Hagler. Running throughout the 12 rounds and putting out a flurry of pitty-pat slaps in the final 20 seconds of every round is NOT enough to take away someones title!

  • Comment number 8.

    That was the greatest era of boxing in my humble opinion, there were so many great fights and fighters. The one man who gave me the greatest pleasure of watching fight was Sugar Ray Leonard, I am so glad to hear he is getting his life back together. Thanks for the enterainment Ray, and good luck for the future.
    P.S. I no longer watch Boxing.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good column. I still believe Hagler won that fight - it was close though and Hagler stupidly threw away the first 2 rounds by fighting out of an orthodox stance (he was a southpaw). However, Hagler was the champion and it has always been the unwritten rule of boxing that to take away the champ's belt on points, you have to have beaten him by a margin. Benefit of the doubt should go to the champ. Hagler won most of the later rounds, and did all the work. The judges were over impressed by Ray's flashy pitter patter punches.....but he was also warned over the 30 times for holding (and should have had a point deducted)- and spent most of the time running from Hagler.

    Still Ray was a great boxer and tactician (about from Duran I) - no doubt about that.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great blog Ben, yours truly are the best on the BBC by quite a long way and the others are still pretty great

    As a huge boxing fan i just wish i had been alive to watch all these fights at the time it must have truly been an amazing period. Also all the best boxers would actually fight each other to see who truly was the best, no 2 year negotiations like Mayweather and Pacquio. Sadly i think boxing is in terminal decline but i wholeheartedly hope that im wrong.

  • Comment number 11.

    Great write up, Ben. The Four Kings and Sugar Ray Leonard autobiogaphy puts a different light on all the boxers of that era. It is amazing that Sugar Ray's image was well manufactured after the Olympics, none of the negative comments ever came into the open. Leonard, Hagler, Duran and Hearns, hard to put them in any order of importance

  • Comment number 12.

    What a golden era that was.. Real superfights. Even the domestic level at middle and super middle was better. Minter, Sibson (both destroyed by Hagler) , followed by Graham, Benn, Watson, Eubank and then Calzaghe. Shame they weren't all born at the same time, then we would have seen who was truly best.. Calzaghe may have come top all the same?

  • Comment number 13.

    Sugar Ray Robinson, the regal Walker Smith, was the only true Sugar Ray, unbeatable as a Welterweight , great as a middleweight and almost won the Light Heavyweight title, when titles where undisputed.He had everything speed, rhythm timing and dynamite in his fists and still competitive at 46.When people say 'as sweet as sugar' pugilistic followers know who they are talking about.

  • Comment number 14.

    An excellent read Ben.
    A great boxer and a greater man for being so honest.
    There's such proven high correlation between early childhood abuse and adulthood addictions, that abusers have a lot more to answer for than just their initial abuse.

    Ray you faught some great fights, but the one yoour fighting now is your greatest, please keep on your toes as it is a fight that goes much longer than 12 or even 15 rounds, it goes for a lifetime. I wish you well, I hope you win.

  • Comment number 15.

    good article. thanks Ben.

  • Comment number 16.

    Good article. Have to agree with some of the previous posters that Ray should never have been given the decision against Hagler. Had Ray been the defending champ then his performance might have merited him holding on to the title, but it was not enough to take the title form Hagler.

    A great era for boxing, with Hagler v Hearns surely one of the fights of all time - has there ever been a better opening round?

  • Comment number 17.

    Ali commented that when he retired, the sport of boxing died, not entirely true at that time but it certainly became terminal. The like's of Sugar Ray, Hagler ,Duran, Tommy Hearns etc contributed to the demise of the sport when they finally hung up their glove's to try and live normal live's, whatever that means in terms of the afore mentioned greats only they could say?
    You have to wish the afore mentioned people all the best in their life after providing Joe public with the very best of sporting entertainment for many years, it is only fair that they should enjoy their life after boxing, unfortunately life isnt't like that and the Sugar Ray revelations about his problems are yet another example of the stresses and strains which sporting greatness can place on an individual, best wishes to all of the afore mentioned and thanks for the memories of a truely great era of boxing.

  • Comment number 18.

    #17 It wasn't so long ago that Duran finally hung up his gloves, in his fifties, and only because a serious injury sustained in a car crash meant he could no longer box.

  • Comment number 19.

    One important fact is being missed. SRL was a welter weight and hagler was a genuine middle weight. SRL used his advantages and boxed him at distance and scored pionts with punches rather than trying to hurt him. if he'd have got caught by hagler, that would have been it. and he knew that so he used he brains and his skills. against one of the best there has ever been and still got a result. that's how good leonard was. he would have been unbeatable for ever and a day at welter weight. still the fastest hands i've ever seen.

  • Comment number 20.

    watched the fight with haggler so many times and still haggler wins every time but sugar ray still a great champion

  • Comment number 21.

    as to sugar ray being the best welter weight duran never lost a fight at that weight and also beat him in the there first fight when they were both at there peak

  • Comment number 22.

    Yeah Godsie, SRL boxed at distance with Hagler and threw tippy tappy punches in flurries and then jumped on Hagler to quash any reply he could muster. It was spoiling tactics. And yet, Hagler still won the fight against Sugar Ray. In my opinion by either 2 or 3 rounds. The American boxing judges, at that time very much tended to favour the aggressor more in a match-up and the olympic style points scoring system wasnt in place at that time, so how they could award SRL the fight even 25 years on still baffles. Haglar was so frustrated by the decision that he took it as a personal attack by boxing authorities and promptly retired. For a Middleweight whom some say may have been the best ever, that was awful treatment and a terribly sad way to leave boxing - whilst we herald SRL as this all conquering hero who, if justice had correctly prevailed would have suffered defeats by Duran, Hearns and Hagler on his resume. I'm unsure at what 'natural' weight Hearns fought at but SRL's hands were not faster that his. No way. Hearns was frighteningly awesome to watch in full flow - albeit, SRL did defeat him when they 1st fought.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hagler won it but it was shortly after this that the sport degenerated in to innumerable 'sporting bodies' which has nowadays made it such a joke. Champion of the world at welterwieght? Haven't a clue, could be one of 4 or more different versions!! Laughable really.

  • Comment number 24.

    I remembered the Hagler fight, had the same feel as Ali Foreman, it was that big,

    BTW Nav Sandhu, are you the same as who played Rugger for Nottinham Paviours 10 years ago?

  • Comment number 25.

    I love it, I kinda agree with Godsie, Gipsyem and Strangy, but I go back to my previous point, we can be blinded by style, and you don't really know spit about being hit by flurries of supposedly pitty-pat punches until your the one being hit, just ask Sonny Liston, I agree it can be seen as an odd decision, but spit this is boxing we are talking about, and that night my memory is of Hagler looking like a mauler compared to Leonard; like the pugilist, there is a word! Because that describes them both, who was better, Hagler, Duran, Leonard and then Hearns for me, that would be my order, but for poetry, and oddly for understanding how to cope with hurt and hurting in the ring Leonard is my man.

  • Comment number 26.

    All this talk of hand speed & tactics & style yet no mention of the colourful Kirkland Laing in his pomp?
    I taped that fight & watched it more than 100 times & closest I got Ray the Runner Leonard was losing by 2 rounds!

  • Comment number 27.

    My son's middle name is Marvin, named after Hagler. I'm a massive fan of Hagler, but Leonard won the fight. Hagler threw away the first four rounds. After that, he had the better of it but no way did Hagler win it. Simply coming forward doesn't win you a fight. Hagler was beaten to the punch regularly and though he did have Leonard in trouble a few times he lost at least seven rounds. I have watched the fight many times and still score it 115-113 Leonard every time.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hagler was THE man of that era for me, from destroying alan minter up until he retired, he had everything and no weaknesses.
    It was a great time for boxing, Ray leonard had great speed skills and was cheering him on to beat hearns, how the sport needs these top draw fighters today.

  • Comment number 29.

    It is interesting the Hagler-SRL scoring debate runs on. Most of the US media were split slightly to SRL. I think Hagler's mistake was the first two rounds where he fought orthodox, he lost those rounds and I think they set the tone for the judges.
    Hagler looked rusty for those early rounds. Hagler's last fight was a year earlier against Mugabe and then another whole year since he beat Hearns.

    Another factor was judging in US boxing was moving towards overall ring stewardship, rather than controlling the center of the ring. Hagler didn't do enough to adapt to that SRL fight, that is the reason he lost that fight. SRL told everyone he was looking to steal rounds with flurries and I believe that was in the judges minds.
    IMHO it was a draw.

  • Comment number 30.

    Marvin Hagler was my favourite boxer. I've watched his fight with SRL a number of times. If I have to call it, I'd say that the fight was a draw. I think Hagler did the most meaningful work, with SRL doing most of his work in the last 10-20 seconds of the round, but possibly paid the price for the first two rounds when he chose not to follow his southpaw instincts, like he experimented earlier against Duran. I wonder, however, how both fighters would have fared against someone like Monzon. The Argentinean was bigger than both fighters, certainly hit harder than SRL and was a fantastic boxer too. I think his size and skill would've seen off SRL and the fight against Hagler would've certainly been interesting.

  • Comment number 31.

    Good article, brought back some fond memories from when I used to watch boxing. Every division seemed to have a whole raft of boxers at the top of their trades. Personally I always preferred the heavyweight division (Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Norton et al) but whoever was the champion was the champion. None of this 4 (or is it 5 now?) champions of the world. The 'sport' has degenerated into nothing more than a money making circus, with all the big fights on pay per view - not for me.

  • Comment number 32.

    brilliant read, a man, a father, a flawed genius! arent we all?
    really superb boxer in his prime inspired me (alongside many others) to take up the sport, because of his 'breed' people like me get a focus, a drive.
    thankyou sugar ray, thank you all

  • Comment number 33.

    What's all this stuff about the first two rounds? It was the first FOUR that Hagler threw away. In my 40 years this is still THE biggest fight of my lifetime in my opinion (I was born just after the first Ali-Frazier fight). Other fights that get close are probably the first Leonard-Duran fight, Hagler-Hearns, Tyson-Spinks and Ali-Foreman. Mayweather-Pacquaio will join the list if it happens, though like Hagler-Leonard it would have been even better a few years earlier.

  • Comment number 34.

    A true great of boxing. Deserved all the plaudits. My only moan was his non fight with Marvin Hagler. You can't run away for 15 rounds & then be awarded the bout. Hagler fought the wrong fight in trying to knock him out with every punch instead of wearing him down but he still hurt Leonard when he landed. Leonard couldn't have hurt Hagler with a tank!

  • Comment number 35.

    Have to disagree sorry guys - I wanted Hagler to win, to shut up the "pretty boy, pitty-patty" puncher, Leonard. But I don't think I have EVER seen a boxer land so many punches in a fight, before or since. His hand speed was truly phenomenal that night.
    Agree that it's a great article, though!!

  • Comment number 36.

    I have always been convinced that Hagler won that fight, similarly I'm sure that Hearns beat him comfortably in their rematch where he floored Leonard twice and somehow came away with a draw. Unquestionably a great fighter but I think being the recipient of house decisions like those two tarnishes him in a lot of people's eyes, shame really.

  • Comment number 37.

    Just have to appreciate the qualities of each of these guys, true warriors of the ring!

    I can watch the four kings video over and over again - the Hagler v Hearns was a particularly brutal whirlwind.

  • Comment number 38.

    I've checked the listings for Radio 5 Live tonight and there's no mention of the SRL story?
    If you're reading Ben...can you confirm it's definitely on. I don't want to miss it.
    Thanks.

  • Comment number 39.

    I've always been a fan of sugar rays but for me he had some very dubious decisions. to this day I'm conviced the hagler fight was rigged. no way did he beat him (and I'm pretty sure SRL told hagler that he'd won after the final bell). I'm also amazed that hearns didnt win the rematch.

    a great era nonetheless and SRL is up there with the greatest boxers but he should serve as a template to all great boxers of when to hang the gloves up (for good). Roy Jones Jr seems to be following in his footsteps of not knowing when to quit. sadly the phrase 'he's had more comebacks than sugar ray leanard' says it all.

  • Comment number 40.

    I saw Sugar Ray on "The Contender" and one of the fighters was skipping saying to SR that he wished he could still do it?

    SR (in his fifties) snatched the rope and was faster, quicker and more capable than all of them including a only recently retired Oscar De La Hoya in his early 30's!!!

    He had a look in his eye that said "i'm fifty plus and i'm still better than you lot!"

    I hate it when boxers are accused of "running" i think they should call it "not losing". If you're up against a puncher or brawler and you fight better on the outside, thats exactly what you do!

  • Comment number 41.

    Wow! a mention for Kirkland Laing. I remember watching so many of his fights were he was streets ahead of his opponent only to end up sitting on his ass in the middle of the ring wondering what happened. Hilarious stuff. Sorry I know you are all very serious here.....

  • Comment number 42.

    First of all a disclaimer - SRL was my childhood hero and I still look up to him now. I may be a tad biased but am trying to be balanced.

    I have followed boxing all my life and I don't think I've ever seen as complete a boxer in my lifetime as SRL. He could box, he could brawl, he took some shuddering shots from some enormous punchers and he was a supreme athlete. Fair enough, in the Hagler fight he fought to survive and I can see why Hagler thought he'd been robbed. I personally think Hagler would have won but messed up and didn't adjust to SRL's tactics quickly enough, including fighting for the judges' scores. SRL lost fair and square and won fair and square against Duran, he beat the now under-rated Benitez and many other fantastic fighters in an era when nearly every world title challenger was top class. He admits himself that the 2nd Hearns decision was skewed but who can deny how well he did to win their first encounter?

    SRL was a true great, as were his illustrious opponents and not just boxing but sport in general could do with such epic contests nowadays.

  • Comment number 43.

    #24 - i've never played rugby but for what its worth i bumped into my boy manu tuilagi on saturday - what a player he could develop into....

  • Comment number 44.

    I was never that keen on Leonard when I was younger but I've learned to appreciate him with age, especially when compared against todays precious champions who baulk at the prospect of a competitive fight.

    Sure, Leonard padded the latter part of his career with show fights (Lalonde) but in his prime he fought the best at their prime (Benitez, Duran, Hearns). When faced with a problem, he used his cunning - exploiting Duran's habit of losing condition between fights but rushing him into a rematch - luring Hagler into a superfight when he knew Marvin was considering retirement.

    Leonard's performance against Hagler was astonishing but Hagler won that fight and Judge Guerra should never have been allowed near a ring again.

  • Comment number 45.

    Like I said earlier, I'm a huge fan of Hagler but HE LOST! All this stuff about Leonard "running" is rubbish. He hit Hagler 306 times in 12 rounds, to Hagler's 291. Now the average Hagler punch may well have been harder, but none were hard enough to put Leonard on his backside. Lalonde was a much bigger (but slower man). He decked Leonard, don't forget. It's all 20 plus years ago and judging by some of the memory-loss that seems to have occurred on this page, you'd think it was longer! Leonard told Hagler "you're still the champ" meaning that in his eyes he still was a great fighter, NOT meaning "I think you won". Yes, Hearns won the second fight (decked Leonard twice) - another show fight? Maybe getting beaten up by Terry Norris was a late career show fight too? Deary me, do your research please!!

  • Comment number 46.

    I remember many of Sugar Ray Leonard's fights. I gave him a chance against Hagler and thought he Sugar Ray won it. In Hagler's previous fight he beat John Mugabi but felt he was slowing down and getting past it. He was due to be challenged by Herol Graham in his next defence, but Hagler didn't want this fight. Against SRL, Hagler looked slow and some of his defensive boxing looked very poor, when he was usually very difficult to hit. SRL won it narrowly for me. I will also remember Sugar Ray concerned immediately after he knocked out Dave "Boy" Green in devastating fashion at welterweight. Later, he came to visit Dave Green at his home town of Chatteris in the Fens. A great champion and true sportsman.

 

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