History

On This Day: Steve Cruz pips Barry McGuigan in a titanic Las Vegas battle

Barry McGuigan
A disastrous 15th round sees Barry McGuigan lose his featherweight title

STEVE CRUZ w pts 15 BARRY McGUIGAN
June 23, 1986; Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV
A FIGHT that, upon first viewing, sent me running to my bedroom in tears. McGuigan transcended the sport back in the mid-1980s and was a hero to thousands, myself included. Then still only 25, McGuigan was greeted in Las Vegas with the kind of fanfare that was rare for overseas fighters in America. The WBA featherweight champion was originally scheduled to take on Fernando Sosa until two detached retinas were discovered. In came Cruz, simply to make up the numbers. What followed – in the outdoor desert heat of 110 degrees – was both thrilling and gruelling in the extreme. McGuigan started well but faded late as Cruz dropped Barry in the 10th and secured victory in the last, when he scored a further two knockdowns to edge the cards 143-142, 142-141 and 143-139.

DID YOU KNOW? Steve Cruz supplemented his ring earnings by working as a plumber’s helper for $6.50 per hour.

WATCH OUT FOR: Harry Carpenter expertly guiding the viewers through the action and his belief, as the 15th round began, that the fight wasn’t close. At that point, it really seemed like McGuigan was going to retain his title.

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