Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns are considered to be two of the best boxers of all-time. They fought twice, once in 1981 and once in 1989. Both fights are considered to be classics.

Leonard-Hearns I "The Showdown"[edit]

The Showdown
Date September 16, 1981
Title(s) on the line Undisputed world welterweight championship
WBC & WBA welterweight unification

United States Ray Leonard vs. United States Thomas Hearns
Sugar The Hitman
Motor City Cobra
Tale of the tape
Palmer Park, Maryland From Detroit, Michigan
30-1 (21 KO) Pre-fight record 32-0 (30 KO)
WBC welterweight champion Recognition WBA welterweight champion

Sugar Ray Leonard won the WBC welterweight title with a fifteenth-round knockout of Wilfred Benítez in 1979. He lost it to Roberto Durán by a close decision in June 1980 and regained it five months later in the infamous No Más Fight, in which Duran quit in the eighth round. In June 1981, Leonard moved up to the light-middleweight division for one fight, knocking out Ayub Kalule in nine rounds to win the WBA light-middleweight title.

Hearns won the WBA welterweight title in 1980, scoring a second-round knockout of Jose 'Pipino' Cuevas in Detroit, Michigan. He made three successful title defenses, stopping Luis Primera, Randy Shields, and Pablo Baez.

Promoted as "The Showdown," Leonard (30-1 with 21 KO) fought Hearns (32-0 with 30 KO) on September 16, 1981 at Caesars Palace in Paradise, Nevada to unify the world welterweight championship in a scheduled fifteen-rounder. They fought before a live crowd of 23,618 and a worldwide TV audience of some 300 million.

The fight began as expected, Leonard boxing from a distance and Hearns stalking. Leonard had difficulty with Hearns' long reach and sharp jab. By the end of round five, Leonard had a growing swelling under his left eye, and Hearns had built a considerable lead on the scorecards. Leonard, becoming more aggressive, hurt Hearns in the sixth with a left hook to the chin. Leonard battered Hearns in rounds six and seven, but Hearns miraculously regrouped. Hearns started to stick and move, and he started to pile up points again. The roles reversed: Leonard became the stalker and Hearns became the boxer.

Hearns won rounds nine through twelve on all three scorecards. Between rounds twelve and thirteen, Leonard's trainer, the legendary Angelo Dundee, said the now legendary words "You're blowing it, son! You're blowing it!"

Leonard, with a badly swollen left eye, came out roaring for the thirteenth round. After hurting Hearns with a right, Leonard exploded with a combination of punches and sent Hearns through the ropes. Hearns managed to rise, but was dropped again near the end of the round.

In round fourteen, after staggering Hearns with an overhand right, Leonard pinned Hearns against the ropes, where he unleashed another furious combination, prompting referee Davey Pearl to stop the contest and award Sugar Ray Leonard the unified world welterweight championship. Hearns was leading by scores of 124-122, 125-122, and 125-121.

After the fight, there was controversy due to the scoring of rounds six and seven. Even though Leonard dominated, hurting Hearns and battering him, all three judges gave both rounds to Leonard by a 10-9 margin. Many felt that the ten-point must scoring system was not properly used and those rounds should have been scored 10-8.[1]

Preceded by
KO9 Ayub Kalule
Sugar Ray Leonard's bouts
March 28, 1981
Succeeded by
KO3 Bruce Finch
Preceded by
KO 4 Pablo Baez
Thomas Hearns' bouts
March 28, 1981
Succeeded by
W10 Ernie Singletary

Leonard-Hearns II "The War"[edit]

Leonard-Hearns II
Date June 12, 1989
Title(s) on the line WBC/WBO super-middleweight titles

United States Ray Leonard vs. United States Thomas Hearns
Sugar The Hitman
Motor City Cobra
Tale of the tape
Palmer Park, Maryland From Detroit, Michigan
35-1 (25 KO) Pre-fight record 46-3 (38 KO)
WBC super-middleweight champion Recognition WBO super-middleweight champion

Following "The Showdown," Leonard defended the undisputed world welterweight championship once, knocking out Bruce Finch in the third round, and then retired after having surgery to repair a detached retina in his left eye.

Hearns moved up in weight and outpointed Wilfred Benitez to win the WBC light-middleweight title in 1982. Two and a half years later, he challenged Marvin Hagler for the undisputed world middleweight championship, losing by a knockout in the third round of a very exciting fight. In early 1987, he stopped Dennis Andries in ten rounds to win the WBC light-heavyweight title.

Leonard made a one-fight comeback in 1984 and stopped Kevin Howard in nine rounds. However, Leonard suffered the first knockdown of his career and was so disappointed in his performance that he once again retired after the fight.

In 1987, Leonard came back again and fought Hagler for the middleweight championship. Leonard, a huge underdog, defeated Hagler by a twelve-round split decision. The following month, Leonard retired again.

Hearns knocked out Juan Roldan in four rounds in late 1987 to win the vacant WBC middleweight title, becoming the first boxer to win world titles in four weight divisions. Hearns lost the title in his next fight, suffering a third-round knockout against Iran Barkley.

Hearns returned to win the inaugural WBO super-middleweight title against James Kinchen by a majority decision on 4 November 1988 to become the first boxer to win world titles in five weight divisions. Three days later, Leonard knocked out Don Lalonde in nine rounds to win both Lalonde's WBC light-heavyweight title and the vacant WBC super-middleweight title.

After almost eight years, the Leonard-Hearns rematch finally happened. It was promoted as "The War". Leonard (35-1 with 25 KOs) and Hearns (46-3 with 38 KOs) met on June 12, 1989 at Caesar's Palace in a scheduled twelve-rounder for the WBC & WBO super-middleweight titles.

Hearns dropped Leonard with a right cross in the third round, but Leonard came back and battered Hearns around the ring in the fifth round. Early in the seventh round, Hearns hurt Leonard but punched himself out going for the knockout. With Hearns fatigued, Leonard came back and had a strong finish to the round. Rounds nine and ten were good rounds for Leonard, but he ran into trouble in the eleventh round. Three booming rights from Hearns sent Leonard down for the second time in the fight. Knowing he needed a big finish, Leonard fought furiously and had a big final round.

The judges scored the fight a draw, with both boxers retaining their respective titles. Judge Jerry Roth scored the fight 113-112 for Hearns, Judge Tom Kazmarek scored it 113-112 for Leonard, and Judge Dalby Shirley scored it 112-112. Shirley was the only judge to give Leonard a 10-8 margin in the twelfth. If he had scored it 10-9, as his two colleagues did, Hearns would have won by a split decision. The decision was soundly booed, as most felt that Hearns had won.[2] Eventually, Leonard admitted that Hearns deserved the decision. {{citation needed}}

There was talk of a third fight, but it never happened. Leonard had his attorney, Mike Trainer, pursue a third fight, but Hearns said that he could no longer make the weight and was returning to light-heavyweight.[3]

Preceded by
KO9 Don Lalonde
Sugar Ray Leonard's bouts
June 12, 1989
Succeeded by
W12 Roberto Durán
Preceded by
W12 James Kinchen
Thomas Hearns' bouts
June 12, 1989
Succeeded by
W12 Michael Olajide

Notes[edit]