Total Bouts: 40, Won: 36, Lost: 3, Drew: 1, KOs: 25
with speed, ability and charisma, Sugar Ray Leonard, filled the
boxing void left when Muhammad Ali retired in 1981. With the American
public in search of a new boxing superstar, Leonard came along
at precisely the right time.
Leonard was named Fighter
of the Decade for the 1980s. And why not. He entered the decade
a champion and left a champion. In between, he won an unprecedented
five world titles in five weight classes and competed in some
of the era's most memorable contests.
There were few things
Leonard could not do once the bell rang. But what he did best
was analyze his opponents and devise a strategy to overcome them.
He found a way to beat stylists, sluggers and brawlers. And beneath
that flashy surface was a competitor with the remorseless ability
to put an opponent away when they were hurt. There were few better
finishers in boxing.
Leonard surfaced in
the public's imagination after winning a gold medal at the 1976
Olympics. He won the WBC welterweight title in 1979 after stopping
fellow Hall-of-Famer Wilfred Benitez in a violent chess match
that pitted two of the game's master technicians.
After one successful
defense, Leonard faced legendary lightweight champion Roberto
Duran in what may be the most anticipated non-heavyweight fight
in history. In a fast-paced battle, Duran dethroned Leonard with
a unanimous 15-round decision. Leonard regained the title when
Duran quit in the eighth-round of their rematch.
In 1981, Leonard climbed
the scale and knocked out junior middleweight champion Ayube Kalule.
He then returned to the welterweight division for a unification
showdown with WBA champ Thomas Hearns. Leonard and Hearns waged
a memorable war but Leonard, behind on all three scorecards, managed
to knock Hearns out in the 14th round.
After one more fight,
Leonard, suffering from a detatched retina in his left eye, retired.
He returned to the ring in 1984 and knocked out Kevin Howard only
to retire again.
After nearly three
years of inactivity, Leonard returned again and pulled off the
Upset of the Decade when he outpointed Marvin Hagler to win the
middleweight title in 1987. Leonard added titles four and five
in November 1988 when he recovered from an early knockdown to
stop power-punching Canadian Donny Lalonde. At stake that night
was Lalonde's WBC light heavyweight title and the vacant WBC super
Leonard made two successful
title defenses of the super middleweight title, fighting to a
controversial draw with Hearns and decisioning Duran in their
third and final encounter.
Leonard retired again,
but could not stay away. At age 34, he challenged WBC super welterweight
champion Terry Norris in 1991. He was dropped twice and lost by
unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden.
five-division champion announced his retirment in the ring immediately
after the Norris fight. But in March 1997, he launched another
unsuccessful comeback, which ended via a fifth-round TKO to Hector
Camacho. It was the first time Leonard had ever been stopped.