History | Nov 30 2018

On This Day: Sugar Ray Leonard halts Wilfred Benitez in 15 rounds

Sugar Ray Leonard wins first world title against defensive genius Wilfred Benitez, writes Matt Christie
sugar ray leonard
US PRESSWIRE Sports Archive  |  Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

1. ON November 30, 1979, Wilfred Benitez – the youngest world champion in the history of boxing – entered the Caesars Palace ring in Las Vegas as WBC welterweight king but could not leave with the title, as the brilliance of young “Sugar” Ray Leonard triumphed in the 15th and final round.

2. THE bout was broadcast by ABC in the USA and also featured Vito Antuofermo controversially retaining his world middleweight title against Marvin Hagler via a draw, and Marvin Johnson stopping Victor Galindez to claim the WBA light-heavyweight belt.

3. LEONARD, unbeaten in 25 outings, entered as a 3-1 favourite against Benitez, who was making his second defence, and was three-and-a-half years removed from claiming the light-welterweight title at the age of just 17.