Sugar Ray Leonard vs Wilfred Benitez
Sugar Ray Leonard (born May 17, 1956) is an American retired professional boxer and occasional actor. He was named Ray Charles Leonard, after his mother's favorite singer, Ray Charles. Leonard was the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses, won world titles in five weight divisions and defeated future fellow International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees Wilfred Benítez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Durán and Marvin Hagler. Leonard was named "Boxer of the Decade" for the 1980s. When Leonard decided to turn professional, Janks Morton introduced him to Mike Trainer, a friend of his who was an attorney. Trainer talked twenty-four of his friends and clients into underwriting Leonard's career with an investment of $21,000 to be repaid within four years at 8% interest. Trainer then made Leonard the sole stockholder in Sugar Ray Leonard, Inc. Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali's trainer, was brought in to be Leonard's trainer and manager. Many of the people being considered wanted absolute control and a cut somewhere near the manager's traditional 33%. Dundee had a different proposition. Although he would prescribe the training procedures, he would leave the day-to-day work to Dave Jacobs and Janks Morton. He would also choose Leonard's opponents. For his services, Dundee would get 15% of Leonard's purse. Leonard made his professional debut on February 5, 1977 before a crowd of 10,270 at the Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland. He was paid $40,044 for the fight. His opponent was Luis "The Bull" Vega, whom he defeated by a six-round unanimous decision. After the fight, Leonard paid back his $21,000 loan to the investors. In his fourteenth professional fight, Leonard fought his first world-ranked opponent, Floyd Mayweather, who was ranked seventeenth. The fight took place on September 9, 1978. Leonard won by a tenth-round knockout. A month later, Leonard defeated his old amateur nemesis Randy Shields by a ten-round unanimous decision. On August 12, 1979, Leonard knocked out Pete Ranzany in four rounds to win the NABF Welterweight Championship. The following month, he made his first title defense against Andy Price. Many felt that Price would give Leonard a tough fight, but Leonard took him out in the first round, advancing his record to 25--0 with 16 knockouts. Hearns, 32--0 with 30 knockouts, won the WBA Welterweight Championship 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. 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 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. The fight billed as a classic showdown between a powerful knockout artist and the best boxer/puncher the welterweight division had seen in decades devolved into a tactical and boring fight. Hearns won rounds nine through twelve on all three scorecards. Between rounds twelve and thirteen, Angelo Dundee told Leonard, "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. Hearns' legs were clearly gone and after more pressure from Leonard he was bundled through the ropes, no knockdown was given as it wasn't a punch that sent him there. Hearns managed to rise, but was dropped by a flurry of hard punches 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. Some also considered the stoppage premature: at ringside veteran announcer Don Dunphy said 'They're stopping the fight. I don't believe it. Hearns was ahead on points'"