History | Jun 20 2019

On This Day: Roberto Duran edges Sugar Ray Leonard in one of the best fights of all-time

David Fletcher reflects on an epic welterweight showdown that saw Roberto Duran cement his place among the immortals
roberto duran
Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

JUNE 20, 1980 was the date for the first in a trilogy of fights between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. The fight was nicknamed the “Brawl in Montreal” and attracted more attention worldwide than any other non-heavyweight contest in history, with the exception of Sugar Ray Robinson’s middleweight match-up against Carmen Basilio in 1956.

THE Olympic Stadium in Montreal was the venue for the fight, the same place that Leonard was crowned Olympic champion in the 1976 Games, capturing the hearts of the American public in the process.

LEONARD was defending his WBC Welterweight belt having earned the title in the previous November, beating Wilfred Benitez on a technical knockout with just seconds remaining in the 15th and final round. He then successfully saw off Dave Green of Great Britain three months prior to arriving in Montreal.