The Great Sugar Ray Leonard Turns 65 — Boxing News

The good Sugar Ray Leonard, for a lot of followers and specialists the best dwelling fighter, turns 65 in the present day. An excellent welterweight, Leonard’s mixture of talent, guile and crafty additionally noticed him to world titles at 154, 160, 168 and 175 kilos. Arguably the ONLY fighter worthy of inheriting the “Sugar” nickname immortalised by the one and solely Sugar Ray Robinson, Leonard gave the game some really particular nights and fights.

As an novice, Leonard achieved world stardom, his performances on the 1976 Olympics turning him into an on the spot hero. Already, along with his mixture of pace, flash and explosiveness, alongside along with his charisma and pure allure, the 20-something Leonard was being known as the brand new Muhammad Ali. Upon turning professional – this after initially wanting to return to varsity and neglect about boxing as a profession, Leonard pressured to alter his thoughts when his mother and father each fell into unwell well being – Ali’s legendary coach Angelo Dundee got here on board and helped flip Sugar Ray into an important skilled.

The massive cash got here fairly rapidly, as did the massive fights. Leonard went professional in February of 1977, and by November of ’79 he was difficult for the WBC and Ring welterweight titles. And Leonard was not dealing with an peculiar champion, he was dealing with a wizard within the type of the defensively gifted Wilfred Benitez. Leonard needed to dig deep within the combat, his punches typically made to overlook, however in the long run the brand new golden boy acquired the victory, through a really late TKO – one which got here with a mere six seconds left on the clock.

Leonard managed one retention, a chilling KO win over Dave “Boy” Inexperienced, earlier than Sugar met Stone. Mike Tyson’s favorite combat, the Duran-Leonard traditional from June of 1980 elevated each males. Famously, Leonard allowed Duran and his trash-talking inside his head, with Sugar Ray opting to combat Duran’s combat in Montreal. Leonard confirmed he might take it in addition to dish it out in type, however he took an excessive amount of and his belt was gone. Leonard severely thought of retirement. Later, Leonard would say Duran’s heavy punches had loosened a few of his enamel.

However Leonard’s first masterstroke within the timing of a combat got here just some months later. Figuring out how Roberto beloved to get together after an enormous combat, how he would balloon in weight, Leonard demanded the return combat got here rapidly. Duran, his weight across the 190 pound mark, was persuaded to take the monster payday and the rematch was on. The notorious “No Mas” combat adopted; a combat that conjures up debate all these years later. Simply why did Duran throw up his arms and stop? There are various theories. Leonard was king of the world once more.

Leonard’s most interesting hour got here somewhat beneath a yr after his revenge win over “Arms of Stone.” Going through the equally nice Thomas Hearns, Leonard received the welterweight unification showdown. However not earlier than having to dig deeper than at any time in his whole profession. “The Hitman,” who boxed beneath his second nickname of “Motor Metropolis Cobra” for lengthy intervals within the September 1981 epic, took Sugar Ray to locations he had by no means been earlier than.

Leonard, his eye shut tight, was given simply what he wanted from Dundee – Angelo’s ‘You’re blowin’ it, son, you’re blowin’ it!’ pep speak within the nook profitable in bringing out Leonard’s internal fireplace. Miles forward on factors, Hearns was stopped within the 14th spherical of a combat so nice many name it the best welterweight title combat of all of them.

No-one might have recognized it on the time, however Leonard’s profession was nearly at an finish. A broken retina pressured Sugar Ray to retire in 1982, this after only one extra victory (over Bruce Finch). Leonard demanded the presence of the world’s media, and the presence of Marvin Hagler, at a November 9, 1982 charity occasion in Baltimore. Hagler, the middleweight king and a person who so desperately craved a combat with Leonard and the large payday that may include it, was sure Leonard would announce the combat earlier than the world. As an alternative, Sugar Ray dropped the retirement bombshell. Hagler was livid.

Have been it not for profitable eye surgical procedure carried out by good surgeons with the most recent expertise at their disposal, Leonard’s profession would have been over at age 27 (had the retinal harm been inflicted on a fighter from the Nineteen Fifties, ’60s or ’70s, their profession would certainly have been ended). However as everyone knows, Sugar Ray got here again for his most well-known, and on the similar time most controversial, ring victory.

Leonard pulled one other masterstroke in getting Hagler to comply with a 12 spherical combat, to a much bigger ring, whereas the timing of the combat suited Sugar Ray. Leonard had observed how Hagler had slowed down and he knew he might beat him. To at the present time, followers in all places argue over whether or not or not Leonard did beat Hagler on the evening of April 6, 1987.

However the comeback was a momentous one, some say the best in boxing historical past. And Sugar Ray was really the king of kings (of “The 4 Kings.”)

If solely Leonard had left it at that. As an alternative, lured again many times, Leonard fought on and, his abilities eroding much more so than Hagler’s had, he was knocked down and harm much more ceaselessly than ever earlier than (by Donny Lalonde and by Hearns, twice, of their eight years within the making return). Then, in 1991, a younger Terry Norris pounded Leonard into what all of us felt for sure could be everlasting retirement. As an alternative, rolling the cube as soon as extra, this regardless of by no means needing to show a darn factor to anybody, Leonard got here again another time.

In the one stoppage lack of his superb profession, a 40 yr outdated Leonard was crushed in 5 by Hector Camacho, this in March of 1997. Like Ali earlier than him, Leonard went out a loser.

However all these years later, who actually remembers the losses to Norris and Camacho? Sugar Ray the grasp, Sugar Ray the untouchable welterweight and middleweight king, Sugar Ray the best fighter of his period. That is what we consider every time Leonard’s identify comes up.

Comfortable sixty fifth birthday to one of many true greats. The best dwelling fighter? It’s both Leonard or Duran.

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