The Brawl in Montreal: Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran

The first fight between the two legends is regarded as one of the greatest fights of all-time in the Canadian city.

In boxing, fighters need a dance partner.

Whether that's Gatti-Ward, Barrera-Morales or Pacquiao-Marquez. It takes two to tango - that is unless you are Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler - otherwise known as the Four Kings.

The quartet delivered some of the greatest fights the sport has witnessed and each fighter is rightly in the Hall of Fame.

To celebrate their greatness, Planet Sport has decided to review every single fight from 1980 to 1989, beginning with the Brawl in Montreal.

Brawl in Montreal

1980 was the year Leonard put his undefeated record on the line against "El Cholo" in Canada for the welterweight championship.

The former was the defending WBC titlist for the second time against Duran - the No.1 ranked contender who had previously been undisputed lightweight champion and was 8-0 at welterweight.

The event was promoted by American Hall of Famer Bob Arum. Neither man had the best of preparations going into the fight.

Leonard - who received a $9million purse for the contest - was sick with a virus while Duran got forced to undergo a two hour examination by a cardiologist because of his irregular heartbeat.

Pulses were racing on fight night for some lucky 46,317 fans in Quebec.

The fight went the full distance - 15 rounds not 12 in today's world - and for those who had the chance to watch it live witnessed one of the greatest fights of a lifetime.

An Olympic champion, nicknamed "Sugar" - the same alias as Ray Robinson - with a gleaming smile and resounding presence of superstardom, Leonard was the posterboy of boxing.

And then we had Duran.

A rugged looking, abusive Panamanian who verbally abused Leonard's then-wife Juania during the build-up of the super-fight by promising to kill her husband.

The stage was set and boy, did it deliver.

Unloading an explosion of exchanges from the opening bell, it was just the beginning of boxing brilliance for 45 minutes.

Despite no knockdowns, the back and forth action continued throughout the duration of a blood-thirsty fight which actually saw little blood from either man's face.

The eventual result of an exhausting-yet-exhilarating night of action saw "Hands of Stone" inflict the first defeat of Leonard's career via unanimous decision - a result which originally announced a majority decision to the South American.

Duran was now a two-division world champion.

Mind games the key

Reviewing the fight, Arum revealed the shocking extent of how personal Duran got with Leonard and his family.

"It went beyond that," the Hall of Fame promoter recalled. "The papers and the magazines, the media covering the fight watered that down a little.

"Duran had psychologically out-psyched Leonard. They were in two different hotels in Montreal and Duran had a spy who watched Juanita each time she left the hotel.

"Duran would get a call to hurry to a car that was waiting. He would have the car drive up next to Juanita and say things like, 'I f*** you after I beat your husband,'" Arum continued.

"That drove Leonard crazy. Leonard knew to beat Duran was to out box him. That fight became a slugfest, and you don't really want to do that with a Roberto Duran.

"That caused Leonard to lose that fight. That just drove Ray crazy. It's why he fought Duran the way he did during their first fight.

"Ray had to box to win that fight, and he knew it. And that's what he did in the rematch and their third fight.

"But Duran, he just had a way of getting under his opponent's skin. He'd do things that really pissed off guys. Ask Ray, he'll tell you."

"He had got into my head. It bothered me as a man. You don't insult a guy's wife," Leonard said.

"We give each other hugs now instead of punches and I'm proud to call him a friend."

Latest news