Sugar Ray Leonard Profile
|Born||May 19, 1956|
|Birthplace||Wilmington, North Carolina, USA|
|Division||Welterweight Limit: 147 Pounds|
|Professional Record||36-3-1 (25)|
The Hall of Fame boxer became the first fighter to earn $100million in the sport and is remembered for his Fabulous Four rivalry with Duran, Hagler and Hearns.
Sugar Ray Leonard is a boxer-turned-analyst and is seen as one of the greatest fighters to have graced the sport.
Leonard is a former five-division world champion who had a famous rivalry with 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns - which was later known as the 'Fabulous Four' during the 1980s.
His tale of boxing excellence started with Olympic success as he won gold at the 1976 Montreal games at light welterweight. His success on the amateur circuit caught the attention of iconic trainer Angelo Dundee, who compared Leonard as a smaller version of Muhammad Ali.
Not only did Dundee train Leonard in all his biggest profile fights, but he also managed him and had control in selecting his opponents. However, rather than receiving a tradition 33 percent of purses earned by Leonard he would take 15 percent.
The first weight division to feel the wrath of Leonard's lightning speed was at welterweight. It took just two years for the American to win world honours with victory over Wilfred Benitez for the WBC, Ring Magazine and lineal titles.
A routine defence followed with victory against Dave Boy Green inside the distance. His next two fights started one of the most iconic rivalries of all time against Duran.
The Brawl in Montreal in 1980 saw Duran inflict the first defeat of Leonard's career before the American avenged that defeat months later in the same year. Their rematch would be later known as No Mas.
The pair would eventually meet in a trilogy decider nine years later with "Sugar" Ray winning the series 2-1.
Billed as the 'Showdown', Leonard then overcame Hearns via TKO in the 14th round to capture the WBA belt and unify at 147-pounds. Dundee - referred to as The Louisville Lip - gave some unforgettable words of wisdom to Leonard against Thomas Hearns in their first showdown whilst believing his fighter was behind on the cards.
The Philly trainer said: "You're blowing it, son. You're blowing it." In the following round, he sent Hearns to the canvas before stopping him in the 14th to add the WBA crown to his WBC and Ring Magazine titles. After a disputed stoppage victory over Bruce Finch, Leonard decided enough was enough and hung the gloves up in 1982.
However, he would return to defeat Kevin Howard two years later before going back into retirement. Three years passed and in 1987 Leonard was enticed to return by Pound for Pound superstar Hagler.
It was a fight for the ages with Leonard delivering one of the best comebacks of all-time to claim the WBC middleweight championship.
The fight is also regarded as one of the most debatable results in the history of the sport.
Leonard made another comeback the following year - and the first without Dundee due to a money related fallout - to win the WBC inaugural super middleweight and light heavyweight titles against Donny Lalonde.
Leonard then fought Hearns in a rematch which ended in a split- draw before a third bout with Duran. Leonard, Hearns, Hagler and Duran were later named as the 'Fabulous Four' and the 'Four King of the Rings' by the media.
His last two fights in 1991 and 1997 both ended in defeat. Retiring as a five-division champion, Leonard was the second fighter after Hearns to enter the quintuple club.
Brawl in Montreal and No Mas
Leonard was a showman and always turned up for the big occasion which is partly the reason as to why his career is celebrated so much. The first career defining fight was when he took on Duran in 1980.
Both men were superstars and had proved the world there was more to the sport than high-profiled heavyweights slugging it out. Dubbed 'The Brawl in Montreal', the fight went the full 15 rounds, with Leonard's technical style clashing with Duran's brawler style to make it a thrilling but gruelling battle.
It was the biggest boxing fight night Canada has witnessed with 46,317 people in attendance. The judges scored the fight to Duran by unanimous decision to inflict the first defeat of Leonard's career.
After going back to the draw board, Leonard went toe-to-toe with El Cholo again five months later in New Orleans, and Leonard came out with a point to prove.
This fight took a different story, with a ruthless Leonard dominating from the first bell with his lightning speed and punching accuracy. In a shocking turn of events in the eighth, Duran lifted his glove and shouted to the referee "No Mas" which in Spanish translates to no more.
The bout ended in the eighth round with Leonard gaining revenge. Their third contest saw Leonard defeat a lacklustre Duran in a contest which was billed as the "Uno Mas" fight subsequently.
Boxing's most controversial fight
Leonard's most famous bout was his comeback fight against Hagler. Leonard had retired from boxing in 1984 but was inspired to return after watching Hagler face John "The Beast" Mugabi.
There was a lot of hysteria as to how Leonard - who ended a three-year retirement due to suffering a detached retina - could transfer his skill and speed at middleweight against an undisputed champion who had made 12 successful defences of his titles.
One thing Leonard had cleverly negotiated was for the fight to be scheduled for 12 rounds rather than 15, depriving Hagler of an extra nine minutes to try and send Leonard back into retirement.
Leonard would win the contest via split-decision in the most contentious result in boxing history. JoJo Guerra's score of 118-110 in favour of Leonard was universally criticised.
"I beat him, I beat him. He knows it and everybody knows it," said Hagler after the fight and demanded a rematch only for Leonard to retire. Judge Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 in Leonard's favour while judge Lou Filippo had it 115-113 to Hagler.
Fed up with waiting for Leonard to return, Hagler called it quits in 1988. One month later Leonard announced his plans to return to action and later offered Hagler a reported $15 million to fight him in 1990 only for it to be declined.
The rematch the world wanted would never happen.
Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns
The next super-fight on Leonard's record was with the "Motor City Cobra". Hearns held the WBA welterweight belt and was defending it for the fourth time.
The pair met in Las Vegas in September 1981. The fight nearly did not go ahead after Leonard sustained an injury to his eye in sparring and was advised by doctors to postpone the fight. Leonard had other ideas, though.
Hearns adopted a similar style to Duran and seemed to be cruising until round 13 where Leonard demonstrated animal-like instincts to send Hearns onto the canvas.
Smelling blood in the next round, a bruised and battered Leonard stalked his prey and delivered a heavy right hand to cause the referee to halt proceedings.
Billed as "The War", the duo decided to dance for a second time in 1989 at Caesars Palace. Things got heated ahead of the rematch after Hearns' team accused a bulked-up Leonard of steroid usage.
Leonard entered the ring with the word 'Amandla' designed on his trunks. The word translates to 'power' in Zulu and was a frequent word used during anti-Apartheid protests.
The fight night also marked 25 years since Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for trying to remove the Apartheid government from power. Hearns sent shockwaves through the Las Vegas crowd as he sent pre-fight favourite Leonard to the canvas in round 11.
The super middleweight contest would end in a draw, much to the dismay of fans who thought Hearns had done enough to win.
Sugar Ray Leonard's net worth
Leonard's superstar status inside the ring saw him pick up some hefty purses against the likes of Hagler, Hearns, Duran and Lalonde. In 1989, the LA Times had reported Leonard's total earnings amassed to $83.5million.
Leonard took a guaranteed $21million purse from the combined Hearns fights without TV deals or sponsorship money. The American was paid $12 million from the Hagler fight, between $7-10million for the Duran fights due to TV deals around the globe and money from the Olympic committee for hosting the first fight.
Some of the purses Leonard obtained from his career were unheard of for his time - he was the equivalent of Floyd Mayweather in the 21st Century.
He has also received lucrative pay from TV networks such as HBO, FOX and streaming service DAZN to give his views as a pundit and commentator alongside host Brian Kenny. According to Forbes, Leonard is estimated to be worth $120million.
Sugar Ray Leonard's family
Leonard raised four children named Jarrel, Camille, Daniel and Ray Junior. His first spouse was high-school sweetheart Juanita Wilkinson who gave birth to Jarrel and Ray.
They would divorce in 1980 after accusations of domestic violence from Leonard. Wilkinson accused him of the occasional use of cocaine, something Leonard spoke about in his testimony and denied.
Leonard later admitted to taking the Class A drug during a press conference after the Los Angeles Times broke the story. The now-retired boxer put his substance abuse down to missing the ring.
Leonard would marry for a second time with Bernadette Robi - the ex-wife of NFL star Lynn Swann - in 1993 and together they had a son and daughter in Camille and Daniel.
Leonard is also the godfather of Khloe Kardashian and has featured on their highly popular TV programme Keeping up with the Kardashians, which no longer airs.
Sugar Ray Leonard's amateur career
Leonard had massive success as an amateur. Sarge Johnson - assistant coach of the US Olympic Boxing team - gave Leonard the nickname of Sugar after complimenting his skills in the ring to Dave Jacobs.
That kid you got is sweet as sugar, he said. Leonard had 'sweet' success indeed, winning a shed load of tournaments, including the Golden Gloves lightweight edition in 1973 as well as the Pan Pacific Games in 1975.
His biggest accomplishment came the following year as he won gold at the 1976 Games, in an American squad considered the greatest boxing team in Olympic history.
It included Leon and Michael Spinks, John Tate, Charles Mooney, Howard Davis Jr and Leo Randolph. Leonard won each fight 5-0 on the scorecard and avenged a defeat to Kazimierz Szczerba in the semi-finals before overcoming Cuban knockout machine Andreas Aldama in the light welterweight final.
It would be his final appearance as an amateur having fulfilled his dreams as Olympic champion. Leonard's record was an impressive 145-5 with 75 knockouts in the process.
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