History

On This Day: Sugar Ray Leonard rallies to stop Thomas Hearns in one of the greatest fights the world has ever seen

Sugar Ray Leonard
Sugar Ray Leonard overcomes points deficit to stop Thomas Hearns in epic battle

SUGAR RAY LEONARD w rsf 14 THOMAS HEARNS
September 16, 1981; Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV
IN 1981, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard produced an exhibition – or should we say a lesson – of what happens when two great fighters meet while at their respective peaks. The negotiations, according to Hearns’ trainer, Emanuel Steward, lasted barely half an hour so interested were both parties in proving their supremacy. Leonard, wary of Hearns’ right hand, boxed cautiously over the first five before hurting his man in the sixth and seventh. “The Hit Man” went from predator to boxer, using his jab to at times bewitch Sugar Ray and build a lead on the cards. Leonard – a narrow favourite when the books opened but the underdog by the time the opening bell sounded – broke through in the 13th to set up the finish in the 14th.     

DID YOU KNOW? A fortnight before the bout, it was reported that Hearns had broken the jaw of his sparring partner, future world champion Marlon Starling.   

WATCH OUT FOR: That famous moment when Leonard’s trainer Angelo Dundee tells his charge that he’s “blowing it, son”.

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