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September 22, 2018
September 22, 2018
Jack Dempsey

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1. JACK DEMPSEY was the people’s champion when he fought Gene Tunney for the second time on September 22, 1927. Although always popular, the former hobo stole the public’s affection in defeat, when he lost to Tunney in their opening bout 366 days before. Promoter Tex Rickard was aware of Dempsey’s newfound status, and spent an entire year hyping the sequel.

2. BEFORE their opening bout, Rickard had been trying to match Tunney with leading black contender Harry Wills in an eliminator but Wills – for so long avoided – priced himself out of the market. Rickard wasted little time in making Dempsey-Tunney, and around 120,000 turned up at Philadelphia’s Sesquicentennial Stadium to watch the fight.

3. TUNNEY was the opposite of Dempsey in so many ways. Gene was considered, articulate and educated. Jack, meanwhile, was a rugged and wild creature who trusted his instincts, and acted upon them. In their first fight, Tunney had dominated with his superior boxing ability, winning a unanimous 10-round decision. His jab was a dream and Dempsey – inactive for three years and past his best at 31 – could do nothing to stop the world heavyweight title slipping from his hands.

4. SO the rematch was set for Chicago’s Soldier Field, and 104,493 fans – the majority Jack Dempsey supporters – turned up to see if Jack could regain his crown.

5. THE champion’s purse was a whopping $990,000 but he sent promoter Rickard $10,000 so he could be paid a flat $1million. Dempsey – fighting as a challenger for the first time in eight years – would earn $450,000 for his challenge.

6. BEFORE the opening bell, referee Dave Barry had carefully explained that should either heavyweight be knocked down, the other should walk to a neutral corner and then the count will begin. Previously, a fighter could hover over their wounded prey.

7. TUNNEY was in charge for the opening six rounds, his jab, again, proving the perfect weapon against the onrushing Mauler. And then, in the seventh, it happened. Dempsey noted that his rival’s guard was low and a right rocked the champion back, before a two-punch volley dropped him. The crowd went beserk.

8. DEMPSEY had won the title by beating up Jess Willard in 1919, knocking him down over and over again. Back then, the rules were different. Dempsey was allowed to greet opponents who regained their footing with a swift blast to the head. But this time, against Tunney, the rules were different. Initially, he refused to stand in the neutral corner, buying Tunney some extra seconds to recover. Eventually, the champion got up at ‘nine’. It must be noted that despite being on the canvas for 14 seconds, Tunney appeared to listen for the count and looked able to rise earlier.

Dempsey-Tunney

9. THE majestic champion regained control, almost as soon as he regained his footing. He dropped Dempsey in the eighth round, and closed the fight in charge. Again, Dempsey lost via convincing 10-round decision.

Dempsey-Tunney

10. DEMPSEY would retire after the bout, declaring he had plenty of cash and all his faculties. Tunney did not hang around for much longer, either, but that seventh round, and the long count, would forever be argued over by fans. But not by the fighters. Tunney claimed he had picked up the referee’s count at “two” and could have got up at any point but chose to wait until “nine” for tactical reasons. Dempsey said: “I have no reason not to believe him. Gene’s a great guy.”

September 21, 2018
September 21, 2018
Rocky Marciano

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THE final, and one of the most noteworthy names, on Rocky Marciano’s perfect 49-0 record; light-heavyweight legend Archie Moore could do little to prevent the fate that had held those who came before him. In his last bow Marciano won in typically emphatic fashion, trading knockdowns en-route to his 43rd victory by way of stoppage. Despite already having amassed over 100 knockout wins himself coming into the fight, the 38-year-old Moore had only moments of success against the heavyweight champ.

The fight got off to an inauspiciously slow start, Moore using all the experience of his 20-year career by looking to keep Marciano at bay with his seven-inch reach advantage and aiming to tie him up on the inside whenever the distance was cut. Marciano is mostly remembered for his brutish strength, but showcased his somewhat underrated boxing skills through a masterful manipulation of the ring, bobbing and weaving underneath Moore’s jab and then stepping inside at will.

In round two Moore shocked the 61,574 spectators at New York’s Yankee stadium by landing a sharp counter right after evading a lunging hook which sent the champion down to the canvas. The 4-1 favourite was up by the count of two, having seemingly recovered strongly. Although Moore failed to capitalise on the flash knockdown, often missing with wild shots, he continued to have success in the round, drawing blood from champion’s nose.

READ The magic of Rocky Marciano

In the third and fourth Rocky began to work his way back into the fight despite a small cut opening under his left eye, landing clever combinations from body to head and generally outworking his challenger. In the latter round the tempo picked up as Marciano threw a series of hooks which trapped Moore against the ropes, who spent much of the three minutes covering up well in his cross-arm defence and avoiding any hurtful blows. Moore continued to outbox Rocky at times with his long jab creating problems, but Marciano eventually returned the favour in the sixth, scoring two knockdowns. The round started in typical fashion, with Archie circling around Marciano who continued to come forward in his bull-like style. As Moore backed up towards the ropes, Rocky stepped in with a huge left which just missed its target, but followed with an overhand right which landed flush. Despite beating the count, Moore looked in serious trouble as Marciano immediately pushed him back against the ropes.

What followed was one of the most incredible exchanges of punching ever produced in a boxing ring, Marciano landed huge, clubbing hooks and Moore not only managed to stay on his feet, but somehow found the strength to stand and trade. The next 45 seconds or so were a gruelling demonstration of non-stop action that is as impressive and exhausting just to watch today on a grainy YouTube video. Finding repeated success, Marciano landed a looping right that seemed to hit Moore on the top of his head, sending him down for a second time. Just beating the ten-count, Moore was on unsteady legs but survived the short remainder of the round.

Rocky-Archie

The seventh was a much closer, Moore, somewhat recovered, landed an eye-catching one two which seemed to stop Rocky in his tracks, who had perhaps punched himself out slightly. By the eighth Marciano had re-asserted his dominance however, stepping up the punishment as Moore’s right eye began to close. Sensing the nearing conclusion of the fight, both were throwing heavy punches in order to get the other man out. After many missed shots, Rocky connected with a right hook which toppled Moore for the third time. With just several seconds left in the round, the challenger was saved by the bell whilst still on the floor and was allowed to carry on into the ninth. From the bell Marciano came out with intent, unleashing lefts and rights that stopped a stationary Moore gaining any momentum back into the fight. In typical fashion for the exhilarating fight, Moore simply looked to stand and trade with the aggressor; at times landing big counters, but for the most part taking a heavy onslaught. After another incredible exchange, Marciano landed two quick left hooks that ended the fight, sending Moore down for the last time, slumped in his own corner and unable to beat the count.

The win would be Rocky Marciano’s last act in a boxing ring, cementing his legacy as an all-time great brutally dispatching a boxing legend. Moore, perhaps past his prime, would go on to fight for several more years as light-heavyweight king . His stock at heavyweight around had already fallen however, and Moore would come up short against the likes of Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson. In the unique history of heavyweight prizefighters, this fight will always be remembered. A truly great display of all that makes the division so exciting, the immense strength showcased as the two battled toe-to-toe goes unparalleled in today’s era.

September 18, 2018
September 18, 2018
Ken Norton

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BREAKING Muhammad Ali’s jaw will always be Ken Norton’s claim to fame but the former WBC heavyweight champion, who died in 2013 aged 70 after a long illness, deserves to be remembered for so much more. Let’s also talk about his place in heavyweight history as one of the best in a great era; the physique that looked like it had been sculpted from golden marble; the hellacious dogfight with Larry Holmes; and the fierce determination that fuelled survival from a horror crash in 1986.

Norton was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1943 and quickly developed the kind of self-confidence that only the physically blessed enjoy. His pristine physique was the envy of many and it developed effortlessly.

“I can only attribute it to good genes,” Norton explained in his 2000 autobiography. “I never worked out with weights, and that includes when I was boxing professionally.”

By the time Norton was in ninth grade, he measured almost six-foot, was an outstanding athlete, and cocky beyond his years. After mouthing off at the dinner table, his father threw a glass of water in his son’s face in an effort to cool the arrogance. The youngster unwisely challenged his maker to a fight, and after being flattened by a single punch, quickly realised that it takes more than muscles to rule.

His fight education continued after he joined the United States Marine Corps in 1964. The art did not come naturally – “I looked pitiful when I first tried to shadow-box” – but despite a reliance on brute force, he started to improve; in his first year in service he won 10 of 11 boxing matches. Future star referee, Richard Steele, was stationed with Norton at Camp Pendleton and remembers his development:

“I moved a lot and boxed instead of trading punches with Ken. He hit so hard he would hurt you without even knowing it, so I just tried to stay out of his way. When he got out of the Marine Corps and turned pro, I couldn’t box with him anymore, he improved so much from the time he started to the time he got out.”

By the time Norton ditched the vest in 1967 he had racked up a record of 24-2 (19) as an amateur. A year before his professional debut – a five-round pummelling of Grady Brazell – his son Ken Jnr was born. But problems arose with his then-wife Jeanette, and Norton was forced to raise his beloved boy alone. Ken Norton Jnr would grow up to be a pro linebacker and assistant coach at the Seattle Seahawks.

By 1970 Norton had moved to 16-0 with Eddie Futch as his trainer, but was decked four times and stopped in eight by 5-1 underdog Jose Luis Garcia in fight 17. Following the disaster, Futch attached a newspaper photograph of Norton, eyes glazed and knocked out, to the fighter’s locker.

“Damn Norton,” laughed Futch, “that photographer done got your best side in that picture. You gonna listen to me now?”

Norton paid attention to another lesson in the dangers of over-confidence. 13 wins and three years passed before Norton was matched against Muhammad Ali.

“Norton’s no mug but he hasn’t a chance with Ali,” was Boxing News’ verdict. He surprised everyone. Norton won a close decision over 12 and broke Ali’s jaw. Norton’s unconventional style was all wrong for “The Greatest”.

“Kenny gave Muhammad a hard time,” Ali’s trainer, the late Angelo Dundee, said. “I used to call it the ‘Hopalong Cassidy style.’ He took all the slickness out of Muhammad and you couldn’t time Kenny. He was such a good fighter and a big man. He used to bend down to neglect his own height and make things awkward.”

Norton-Ali104

Ali won an immediate rematch on points but it was another tight affair. Ken was handed a shot at fearsome champion, George Foreman in 1974. But Futch was no longer in his corner – Norton would later claim his management sacked him – and he went into the biggest fight of his career with relative stranger, Bill Slayton, as his new trainer.
The relationship did not begin well as a ferocious Foreman chewed up Norton in two rounds. Despite the wreckage, Slayton and Norton built a sturdy relationship.

“I thought Kenny was an arrogant, cocky guy who acted like he was better than anyone else,” Slayton recalled about their early meetings. “But I later learned that he’s a beautiful guy. He’d do anything in the world for a friend.”

Norton won seven straight – including wins over Jerry Quarry, Ron Stander and revenge over Jose Luis Garcia – before securing a 1976 rubber match with Ali, who had regained his title with a stunning win over Foreman.

The fight was held at Yankee Stadium in New York. Ali, showing the signs of a punishing career, was deemed lucky by many to cling onto his title but the men that mattered (referee Arthur Mercante, judges Harold Lederman and Barney Smith) gave the champion a unanimous decision. Norton was furious. “You don’t win!” he screamed at his nemesis at the end of the showdown. “I beat you, you son of a bitch. I beat you!”

Ken Norton

He remained bitter about the decision until his dying day. But it was boxing he was angry with, not Ali.
“I admire the hell out of him,” Norton said.

“I’ve always liked Ali. I liked him before we fought; I liked him after we fought. Just not during.”

Norton impressed in his next outing – a one-round drubbing of the hyped and unbeaten Duane Bobick – and followed it with a split decision over the awkward Jimmy Young in a November 1977 WBC eliminator. He wanted a fourth crack at Ali but the old man lost his title to Leon Spinks three months later. When Spinks decided to make his first defence against the man he took the title from, the WBC stripped him of their belt and awarded it to Norton.

He was the first heavyweight in history to win the title outside the ring (Lennox Lewis would be the second after the same organisation handed the Englishman their belt after Riddick Bowe had dumped it in a dustbin).

Norton – unlike Lewis – failed to make a successful defence but his reputation as a fighter should be enhanced by the night he lost his title. The 15-round war with Larry Holmes remains a glorious exhibition of heavyweight boxing. Courage and skill oozed from the combatants and, after 14 rounds, it came down to a winner-takes-all final three minutes. The final round was intoxicating but Holmes sealed the title by the slenderest of split decisions.

First-round losses to Earnie Shavers and finally, to the emerging Gerry Cooney in 1981, forced him out of the game with a record of 42-7-1 (33). He earned $16m along the way; second only to Ali at the time.
Five years later, after appearing at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, his Clenet Excalibur hit two curbs, plunged over the edge of the roadway and crashed into a tree.

Norton underwent surgery that saved his life but he was not the same man when he awoke. He couldn’t speak or walk, and his memory was shot. Ali performed magic tricks beside his hospital bed while his family prayed for him.

Norton regained his ability to walk, and despite deep and slurred speech, his health had improved by the time he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.

Norton acted in several movies, most notably Mandingo (1975), in which he played the slave-turned-fighter Mede.

In addition to Ken Jnr, Norton’s survivors include his wife, Rose Conant; daughter Kenishia and two other sons, Keith and Kenny John.

September 18, 2018
September 18, 2018
Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad

Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

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1. IT was supposed to be the best fight the welterweight division had seen since Sugar Ray Leonard beat Thomas Hearns in 1981. Certainly it was the most anticipated. “This is the fight of the century,” said then-world featherweight champion Naseem Hamed. “How could I dare miss it?” But the unification showdown between Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, staged at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on September 18, 1999, was far from the fight of the century.

2. THE combatants came into the fight with fearsome reputations and unbeaten records. Trinidad, 35-0 (30), was regarded as the hardest puncher in boxing, while De La Hoya, 31-0 (25), was considered one of the sport’s absolute finest. There was no clear favourite, and opinions swayed as the fight got closer.

3. TRINIDAD, of Puerto Rico, arrived in Las Vegas several weeks before the fight and, staying at the Hilton Hotel, demanded privacy. He refused interviews and locked the media and public out of his training sessions until there were only days to go. There were rumours that he was uneasy, and struggling to make weight. On the Tuesday before the superfight he decided to organise a public training session that proved he was in peak condition.

4. DE LA HOYA was convinced that victory would be his, and that it would be more straightforward than anyone envisioned. “Nobody knows what I’m going to do,” he said. “That’s playing it smart, confusing my opponent. I’m hungry again. Trinidad’s not a boxer. Whenever he gets hit, he gets wobbled. He’s weak. I don’t think he’s a solid physical structure. I might wipe him off the map or just outbox him. I want to remain undefeated and retire as champion. It’s never been done [outside the heavyweight division]. Watch what happens when I retire from boxing.”

5. BEFORE the fight it was announced that De La Hoya’s purse was a guaranteed $21million compared to Trinidad’s $8.5million. Promoter Bob Arum also added there was a further $11million available in prize funds, that would be split between the pair, if the fight performed well at the Box Office. It did, with 1.4million paying to watch the fight on television, making the PPV revenue a cool $71.4million. All in all, at the time of the fight, it was the richest non-heavyweight fight in history.

6. THE crowd was awash with personalities. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Julio Cesar Chavez and Mike Tyson were there. Angelo Dundee watched on with tennis superstars Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff. Elsewhere Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Cameron Diaz, and Danny DeVito were in attendance.

oscar de la hoya

7. BUT expectations could not be met. The fight was a disappointment, particularly to the those who were expecting a shootout. It was a chess match, and one that De La Hoya seemed to control. At the end of the 12th and final round, Oscar launched his hands to the air in triumph, convinced he had down enough. Certainly, it seemed like he controlled the first eight rounds before opting to slow his output over the last four because he thought victory was his.

8. TRINIDAD was named the winner. The announced scores of 115-114, 115-113, and 114-114 that handed him the majority victory were a surprise to many. The Puerto Rican had certainly been aggressive, but his attacks, largely reduced to just one-twos by De La Hoya’s solid defensive work, had been ineffective. But those who argued that Oscar had cost himself victory, by coasting through the final third of the bout, certainly had a point.

9. JEFF FENECH, the Australian legend, was disgusted by the verdict, and the performance of the judges. “If anyone makes a mistake at work, they get the sack. But in this business the judges get away with it. I wanted Trinidad to win but, after the first round, De La Hoya won the next seven. He won the fight. It was a terrible fight, but Oscar won. This sport sucks.”

10. TRINIDAD had plenty of support, though. Many believed he had done enough. And there was no louder support than that coming from his promoter, Don King. “Give my fighter credit. He beat your man. You’re trying to manipulate these people. There’s no controversy here…” Sick and tired of his old nemesis banging on, Bob Arum switched off his microphone at the post-fight press conference and told him to shut the hell up.

READ: Top 10 fights from fierce Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry

September 18, 2018
September 18, 2018
Oscar De La Hoya

Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

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SEPTEMBER 18 is a bittersweet date in the Oscar De La Hoya calendar.

In his welterweight prime, he disastrously gave away the championships rounds and lost a highly controversial decision to Felix Trinidad in one of modern boxing’s grandest confrontations.

Exactly one year prior to that fight (1998), we saw the 25-year-old De La Hoya defend his welterweight crown to the great, but well past his best, Julio Cesar Chavez at the Thomas and Mack in Las Vegas.

De La Hoya had emphatically beaten the legendary Chavez in four one-sided rounds in 1996, so to see the 36-year-old Chavez give Oscar a terrific battle for eight rounds was a surprise to many.

De La Hoya’s black eye was testament to his tactics as he desperately sought a clean and decisive knockout, but perhaps even sweeter was the manner in which Chavez – who had fought beyond all expectations – bailed out on his stool. Refusing to come out for the ninth round.

He claimed his corner made the decision for him, but Julio, rocked at the end of a blistering eighth, and with a mouth full of blood had tasted enough and knew more pain was around the corner.

“It was a good, exciting fight” said De La Hoya. “There were a couple of rounds when we slugged it out. I could’ve outboxed him, but people want to see a real fight.

“He hits hard. But I took his shots. People now realise I can take a punch”.

“I give my respect to De La Hoya” admitted Chavez. “But I demonstrated that I can still fight. I was never in any trouble”.

Fast-forward to 2004, when in June, De La Hoya squeaked by Felix Sturm for the WBO middleweight belt to set up a huge fight with 160lb great Bernard Hopkins.

De La Hoya vs Hopkins

It went spectacularly wrong for ‘The Golden Boy’ who had the wind taken from his sails courtesy of a Hopkins’ left hook at 1-38 of the ninth round.

This was the only knockout defeat of Oscar De La Hoya’s glittering career.

In front of a packed MGM Grand – Hopkins just shy of his 40th birthday – methodically executed his gameplan to leave the sport’s brightest star writhing on the canvas as Kenny Bayless counted to 10.

De La Hoya had started brightly, but after five rounds, the Philadelphia legend began to take control behind a spearing jab. “I was trying to grab the cheese without getting caught in the trap” was how Oscar described his tactics.

“Never in my wildest dreams to I think I’d get stopped by a body shot” said the man from East LA. “But I have no excuses, he’s a great champion”.

De La Hoya vs Hopkins

Worth noting that De La Hoya had won his first world title way down at super-featherweight. Hopkins began his career as a light-heavy.

“I’m leaner and taller, but there wasn’t a great deal of difference between us because I came in so light.” mused Hopkins. “I’m not a big puncher. I’m a beat-you-up type of guy”.

September 17, 2018
September 17, 2018
Victor Ortiz

Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

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FLOYD MAYWEATHER is destined to play the villain. In smashing Victor Ortiz to the canvas at the MGM Garden Arena, he didn’t violate the rules of boxing but he did offend the sensibilities of sporting fans.

Not that “Vicious” Victor conducted himself as a gentleman, far from it. Bamboozled by a masterful “Money”, in the fourth round the southpaw finally landed a punch of note. His heavy left hand struck Floyd’s head and Mayweather retreated fast. Leaping at his chance Ortiz raced after him, releasing a frenzy of punches. But even with his back to the ropes, Floyd is in command. He swayed in the rigging, letting those Ortiz fists flash past, spent, before tying up the younger man’s arms.

Contained, his rush exhausted, Ortiz fouled blatantly. He jumped clear off the floor to butt Mayweather in the mouth.

Before the fight Floyd, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, had made no secret of his desire to knock out the WBC welterweight champion. Dabbing at his cut chin Mayweather shook his head, his fury palpable. Ortiz acknowledged his foul and rushed over to kiss Mayweather on the cheek, a curious gesture of apology. Floyd didn’t notice and wouldn’t have cared for it if he had.

“I’m in the zone,” he said later, “everything is blocked out.”

Referee Joe Cortez guided Victor by the hand round the ring, deducting a point. The two fighters came to the centre of the ring. Cortez signalled them in. Ortiz once again tried to say sorry, touching gloves with both hands, almost reaching for a half-embrace. His face set, Floyd was hardly going to be in forgiving mood. Ortiz stepped back, hands hanging foolishly at his sides.

Fist in the air, where it was after the gloves had touched, Mayweather snapped a hook across. The left turned Victor’s head. Ortiz’s eyes stayed on the referee, appealing to Cortez at the unfairness of the strike. Mayweather’s eyes never left his mark. He slid forward, fired his unerring right cross and Victor had left himself completely exposed.

It blasted through Ortiz. Flat on his back, Victor rolled on to his hands and knees but, crawling from side to side, face blank, he found no way to beat the count. If he had made it up, he could have recovered – the time was 2-59 in the fourth.

But there is no reason to suppose Ortiz could have changed the outcome. Instead of a systematic beating, Mayweather subjected him to a cold, cruel finish. But Mayweather, convincingly, said, “He could not take brutal punishment like that for 12 rounds. If he did he would never be the same again in his whole career.”

The right hand that closed the matter had tormented the champion all evening. It zeroed in time and again, flush as a lead.
Floyd was in gear from the off. His left had Victor’s southpaw jab under control and as his lead hand worried Ortiz, Mayweather lashed him with his right. In stark contrast, Ortiz’s own power punch couldn’t ruffle his foe. A cross-armed defence shielded him and Floyd had the movement to snap his body forward to let Victor’s left pass harmlessly overhead. His swift footing let him glide back, as a lead right hook from Ortiz touched nothing but air.

The man from Ventura, California, did fare better in the second round. He stood off more, not doing what Floyd wanted of him. This patience could have been his only hope in the face of such an expert counter-puncher. It did not win him the round though. Mayweather advanced, his face a picture of focus. Ortiz directed his left to the body but registered not so much as a blink. An occasional smile from Floyd marked moments when Ortiz’s blows tried, and failed, to catch hold of him on the ropes.

Floyd chose his ground, his rear hand darting home three times in succession. He could see when Ortiz was preparing to punch. Whenever Victor’s lead flicked a fraction down, Mayweather’s cross flew in with exceptional accuracy.

At the start of the third, the Mayweather jab rapped on the champion’s nose. With Ortiz trying to force his way forward, a left hook turned him into the corner. On the outside now, Victor endeavoured to fight his way in but couldn’t get his fists round Mayweather’s guard, whose gloves were up, moving where they needed to be.

Victor looked sturdy. 10st 7lbs at the weigh-in, half a pound heavier than Mayweather, he would have put on more by fight time. But Floyd’s constant rights must have chipped away at his resistance. “Money’s” rear hand slashed up and Ortiz, in sudden danger, backed off. Maybe that shot convinced the 24-year-old he was out of his depth.

In the fourth, Mayweather held ring centre, advancing. A double left hook sprang in, opening a clear path for the right. It’s an irony that, in the build up to the fight, Ortiz’s trainer Danny Garcia had accused Mayweather of being “dirty”. On the night it was Ortiz leaning in with his head, which Cortez had already warned him once for before that wild foul.

Referee Joe Cortez separates WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather Jr. also of the U.S.,  in Las Vegas

The retribution Mayweather exacted may have been cynical but if Cortez had called time in, as later claimed, then it was not illegal. The referee prompted them together. It was Victor’s choice to touch gloves again and there is no rule that obliged Mayweather to spare him.
Afterwards Mayweather showed the cuts on his chin and inside his mouth, as well as a large lump on the back of his head, well behind the ear – certainly not a legitimate target. Ortiz made the fight dirty. Having taken it down that path, he tried to back out of a street fight. Mayweather showed he can win one of those if required.

But what the conclusion won’t do is win “Money” any affection. Floyd is the opposite of a brawler. He fights with a pure class that demands to be admired. The lack of sportsmanship in the ending will overshadow the rest of his majestic exhibition. The knockout may have been ugly, but until then his boxing had been beautiful. For the performance, a more artistic finish, of which clearly he is more than capable, would have made it perfect. But if winning is all that matters, the now 42-0 Mayweather can’t be faulted.

Unrequired judges were Jerry Roth, Adalaide Byrd and Glenn Trowbridge. Ortiz, 29-3-2 (22), can at least use the controversy to pitch for a rematch. But with Golden Boy discussing a welterweight tournament, featuring the likes of new signing Devon Alexander, there are other options.

DOWNLOAD BOXING NEWS FOR THE RINGSIDE REPORT OF FLOYD’S LATEST TRIUMPH IN LAS VEGAS

September 16, 2018
September 16, 2018
Sugar Ray Leonard

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

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SUGAR RAY LEONARD unified the welterweight division in style, stopping the unbeaten Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, at Caesars palace, Nevada.

Leonard, a much decorated amateur, racking up multiples honours including an Olympic gold medal, quickly demonstrated his pedigree in the pro game, claiming the welterweight crown within two years.

In 1979, Sugar Ray succeeded in his first assault on a world title, against New York-Puerto Rican great, Wilfred Benitez. The man born in the Bronx, who is the youngest ever world champion, winning the WBA lightweight strap, at age 17, was dispatched in the 15th.

A year later, the champion locked horns with fellow Hall of Famer, Roberto Duran, in notable back to back wars. The Panamanian relieved Leonard of his title in a close decision in their first encounter. Sugar Ray avenged his solitary defeat in style, forcing Duran to quit during their return, in 1981.

Thomas Hearns, the knockout artist from Detroit, was making his own waves in the welterweight division, bludgeoning his way to the WBA crown, with a formidable KO ratio. In 1980, a home crowd gathered in the motor city, as “The Hitman” bulldozed the champion Joes Cuevas, stopping him within two rounds.

The welterweight king’s trajectories were finally due to collide, as “The Showdown” was signed for September 16, 1981, in Las Vegas.

With the world watching on and both belts on the line, Hearns, with a noticeable reach advantage, peppered Leonard with a stiff, sharp jab, repetitively snapping his head back during the opening rounds.

As the bell sounded signalling the end of the fifth, the pair exchanged shoves and verbals. This set the tone for an aggressive sixth. Sugar Ray wobbled the man from Detroit, with a sharp hook; “The Hitman” retaliated, buzzing Leonard. The fighters ended the round in the centre of the ring, swinging.

In the 13th, Leonard, who had switched tactics by moving into range, began to chop away at Hearns, connecting with a barrage of short uppercuts and hooks. Hearns tried to tie his man up, but the sustained beating took an accumulative affect, as “The Hitman” hit the deck.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray returned to his corner with his hands aloft. Hearns returned to his feet and was greeted by Leonard, who came storming in. They traded again, before Hearns began to run. His avoidance tactics were no match for Leonard, who could smell blood. The North Carolina man, with his opponent lingering on the ropes, hurled a string of decisive blows, Hearns, again, was given a 10 count.

The death knell had rung for “The Hitman” as he once again cornered, with seemingly nothing left to stop the onslaught. Leonard, utilising his full momentum, hurled a big overhand right, catching his rival. Although still standing, the official had seen enough and put an end to the epic encounter.