“The fight was there, and the public wanted to see the match up. It was something we basically couldn’t run from or get away from. You had to take on the next, upcoming opponent. And that’s what I think that we’re missing in the boxing world now. Back in the day, we weren’t able to pick and choose who we wanted to fight.
“In the boxing business now, every one of the champions is able to pick and choose who they want to fight, and to duck who they don’t want to fight. We had to take on everyone as they came, and that made the fight game very interesting.”
Thomas Hearns, speaking in May of 2010 about his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in September of 1981, for which he was paid $5.1 million to Leonard’s $11 million. Hearns shared his thoughts in Las Vegas a few days before he and Leonard attended Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s unanimous decision victory over Shane Mosley.
RingTV.com caught up to five-division titleholder Sugar Ray Leonard, who, when pressed, unveiled his thoughts concerning six-time, five-division titlewinner Floyd Mayweatther Jr. and eight-division belt-winner Manny Pacquiao during a candid interview.
Leonard expressed his opinion on Pacquiao’s disputed majority decision over 38-year-old RING lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez in November, this, after having previously battled through a draw and a split-decision win over Marquez.
Leonard also shared his feelings about what defines a true champion, the failures of Mayweather and Pacquiao to come to terms for a mega-bout opposite one another, as well as how they would do against fighters such himself and seven-time titlewinner, Thomas Hearns.
A 1976 Olympic Gold medalist, Leonard, 55, compiled a mark of 36-3-1, with 25 knockouts, capturing his first major title belt with a 15th-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Wilfred Benitez for the WBC welterweight crown in November of 1979.
Leonard lost the title in his second defense by 15-round, unanimous decision to legendary former lightweight champ Roberto Duran in June of 1980, but regained it in their “No Mas” return bout by eighth-round TKO in November of 1980.
Leonard then rose into the junior middleweight class to earn the WBA belt with a ninth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Ayub Kalule in June of 1981 before his 14th-round, come-from-behind knockout of Hearns to add the WBA welterweight crown to the WBC version he already owned.
Five years later, Leonard ended a nearly three-year layoff by dethroning WBC midddleweight champion Marvin Hagler by split-decision in April of 1987.
Leonard then accomplished a coup by getting WBC light heavyweight titleholder Donny Lalonde to put his belt on the line at a catchweight of 168 pounds, with the WBC’s vacant super middleweight title also at stake.
Leonard whipped Lalonde by the ninth-round stoppage for both belts in November of 1988 before closing out his career with a draw and a unanimous decision opposite Hearns and Duran, respectively, and consecutive losses to Terry Norris and Hector Camacho in ill-advised comeback bouts.