Titles: World welterweight champion 1979-1980 and 1981-1982, WBA jr middleweight champion 1981, WBC middleweight champion 1987, WBC super middleweight champion 1988- 1990, WBC light heavyweight champion 1988. Record: 36-3-1 Born: May 17, 1956 in Wilmington, South Carolina, USA Years active: 1911-1932 Nickname: Sugar Ray Leonard was the pioneer for many a American fighter. He was the first to really use the Gold Medal that he won in the Olympics as a launching pad to the pros. He signed deals to endorse products like 7-UP and McGregor athletic wear and most importantly he demanded to be in charge of his career. Only his trainer Angelo Dundee was let into decision making when it came to who Ray would fight. It was Sugar Ray's way or now way.... boxers like Roy Jones and Oscar DeLaHoya owe Ray Leonard a lot for destroying the way the boxer was only thought of as the product who had no say in his future. In the ring Ray Leonard was spectacular with his controlled aggression and knack for timely flurries. It is the sudden flurry of punches that the fans came to know Leonard for as he would patiently look for a opening, not to land one punch but 3 or 4 in a row before moving on to set the trap again. Speedy and imaginative fists took Leonard to the top where he would fight and defeat the best of his time and indeed anytime. Outside of the ring some say Leonard was arrogant, manipulative towards the media and that he did not want to fight seemingly deserving contenders instead insisting that he would want to fight "big name" opponents. Thus in a way dismissing them as inferior not to mention having them sign unfavorable contracts in order to fight him. Still even his most ardent critics must accept and respect his genius in the ring, winning titles at 5 weights is almost unheard of. Ray Leonard will never be thought of as popular as the original Sugar Ray but in terms of talent it is a close call. Maybe the best summation of Leonard was given by English writer Harry Mullan who said "His ego matched his genius". Ray Leonard (Named after famed R&B singer Ray Charles) was one of 7 children who followed his older brother to a gym at the age of 14 and found his calling. In a remarkable amateur career he only lost 5 fights and culminated his amateur career with a Gold Medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympic games. After he won that Gold Medal Ray Leonard announced to the world that he would retire from the sport.......... it would not be the last time. He changed his mind when his father became ill to help pay mounting bills. Showing the first signs of his outside of the ring skills he formed Sugar Ray Leonard Inc. to help in business dealing and sought the guidance of famed trainer Angelo Dundee in the ring. Leonard had earned many fans during the Olympics and was featured on national T.V for his first pro performance and earned more in his first pro fight than any fighter had ever received for his pro debut. His career progressed smoothly taking on the usual journeyman before stepping up in competition, it was obvious no one at that level could deal with his fast hands. On his way to a title shot he defeated well regarded Floyd Mayweather, Randy Shields, Armando Muniz, Adolfo Viruet and Pete Ranzany all very competent pros who could not match Leonard in any way. Ray Leonard was the first non-heavyweight to be paid 1 millions dollars to challenge for a title when he faced another boxing prodigy in Wilfred Benitez. The fight was a near classic and did feature some great exchanges, Leonard set the pace early and floored Benitez in the 3rd round. It was the bursts of punches to the body which slowly sapped the energy of Benitez that would enable Leonard to stop him in the last round. They battled evenly through the middle rounds before Leonard began to pull away. It was in the 15th that Leonard floored Benitez again to seal a victory before the referee stopped the fight with seconds remaining. Benitez and Leonard had done the impossible..... they made a chess match of a fight look exciting. The bout proved Leonard could go the distance against anyone in a fast paced bout. The first defense of his title against Davy "Boy" Green of England was only notable for the stunning left hook knock out which Leonard called the most vicious punch he ever landed. It might have gave him to much confidence as his next fight would be his first loss in a epic battle against Roberto Duran where he thought he could out punch the Panamanian legend. In the fight Leonard tried to counter punch the almost maniacal advances of Duran but he could not stop Duran from getting on the inside and ripping shots to his body and head. It was by no means one sided as both men threw punches in bunches, yet it seemed as it was always Duran who was coming forward and it impressed the judges to give him a points win. The fight is a classic by any measure, Ray proved he had the heart and chin to take as well as he could dish out. It was a close but unanimous decision win for Roberto. Five months later in the rematch it was not even close as Ray Leonard humiliated the great Duran into quitting with his footwork that would not allow him to be trapped anywhere in the ring. Leonard stayed at distance with a crisp jab and moved smoothly around the charges of Duran this time having learned his lesson from the last encounter. Duran was simply left swinging at the air. Next Leonard scored a very impressive win over southpaw Ayub Kalule with a 9th round kayo win, Kalule is underrated in the annals of boxing in my opinion and Leonard's domination of him was complete. Now Leonard concentrated on his greatest foe Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns in another super showdown! The bout was incredible, a classic that will live forever be retold when boxing fans gather to talk of the all time greatest fights. Everyone was surprised when Leonard became the stalker of a moving and boxing Hearns, their roles had become reversed and Hearns was winning the bout......but tiring. Leonard moved his head well to slip the long armed punches of Hearns as he worked his way in to get off shots to Hearns side and face. It took it's toll as Leonard's eye began to swell badly limiting his sight. In the 13th round first signs of Leonard's work became apparent when he rocked Hearns for a standing eight count. In the 14th round Leonard was sure of the victory as he stalked Hearns looking to land only big power shots, he had finally caught up to Hearns who had taken a lead on the scorecards with his precision punches. Leonard punished a wobbly Hearns along the ropes with a flurry of punches which forced the referee to halt the fight and giving Leonard a incredible come from behind victory. Leonard made one defense of this title against Bruce Finch before a detached retina was found on his left eye and he retired. It took 2 years before Leonard made his comeback after corrective eye surgery to face Kevin Howard. It was not pretty as Leonard won but did not look his usual self and was even knocked down before he won the fight with a 9th round stoppage. Ray Leonard retired again until 2 years later he challenged legendary middleweight Marvin Hagler. In what is one of the most disputed outcomes of all time Leonard was awarded a close decision win. It was a very good fight and difficult to score as Hagler landed more punches but Leonard landed the more noticeable punches almost always towards the end of each round. It was a great performance by Leonard however as almost no one thought he could win in the first place, it was a return to the dancing Ray we saw in the Benitez bout. Once again Ray announced his retirement after the bout. A year and half later Ray returned to the ring and once again won as he defeated Donny LaLonde in a good bout that saw the hand speed of Leonard frustrate the slower LaLonde into making mistakes. LaLonde was not able to with- stand the fast pace set by Leonard and wilted in the mid rounds before being stopped in the 9th round. A rematch with Thomas Hearns was a fight Leonard could not turn down..... perhaps he should have. The two aging warriors fought a good fight but it could of course not compare to their first battle. Leonard was floored twice in the bout and a late rally in the last round reminiscent of their first bout almost pulled out a victory for Ray Leonard. The decision was a roundly booed draw......most everyone thinks Hearns won this bout. Another regrettable rematch with Roberto Duran was made, it was as dissappointing as their first match was great. Both fighters posed to much and hit to little, it was Duran who was the lazier of the two losing a 12 round decision. The only action came in the form of frequent headbutts. Two more years would go by before Leonard would again make a comeback, this time however he did not challenge one of his older companions but a young Terry Norris. It was one of the few miscalculations of Ray's career as the younger and more importantly faster Terry Norris battered Leonard for 12 one sided rounds. The fight only proved that Leonard could take a beating, get knocked down and not quit when the going got tough. Still it was not over yet for Leonard as he was goaded out of retirement by Hector Camacho the way Leonard could not goat Marvin Hagler out of retirement. Leonard was now 40 years old and it showed as he could not take the normally weak punches of Camacho and slouched to a 5th round TKO loss. Writers commented that he looked like a 6 round novice..... how the mighty had fallen. But outside of the ring Leonard never lost as he amassed a small fortune from his ring earnings and invested it wisely. Like Ali who Leonard has been compared to he made to many comeback fights but those losses could never take away those shining moments early and indeed late in his career. When all is said Leonard should be considered one of the greatest men to ever lace up the gloves and a role model for boxers to follow outside of the ring.
1977 5 Feb Luis Vega Las Vegas, NV W6 14 May Willie Rodriguez Baltimore, MD W6 10 Jun Vinnie DeBarros Hartford, CT KO3 24 Sep Frank Santore Baltimore, MD KO5 5 Nov Augustin Estrada Las Vegas, NV KO5 17 Dec Hector Diaz Washington, DC KO2 1978 4 Feb Rocky Ramon Baltimore, MD W8 1 Mar Art McKnight Dayton, OH KO7 19 Mar Javier Muniz New Haven, CT KO1 13 Apr Bobby Haymon Landover, MD KO3 13 May Randy Milton Utica, NY KO8 3 Jun Rafael Rodriguez Baltimore, MD W10 18 Jul Dick Eckland Boston, MA W10 9 Sep Floyd Mayweather Providence, RI KO10 6 Oct Randy Shields Baltimore, MD W10 3 Nov Bernardo Prada Portland, ME W10 9 Dec Armando Muniz Springfield, IL KO6 1979 11 Jan Johnny Gant Landover, MD KO8 11 Feb Fernand Marcotte Miami Beach, FL KO8 24 Mar Daniel Gonzales Tucson, AZ KO1 21 Apr Adolfo Viruet Las Vegas, NV W10 20 May Marcos Geraldo New Orleans, LA W10 24 Jun Tony Chiaverini Las Vegas, NV KO4 12 Aug Pete Ranzany Las Vegas, NV KO4 28 Sep Andy Price Las Vegas, NV KO1 30 Nov Wilfredo Benitez Las Vegas, NV KO15 (Won World & WBC Welterweight Title) 1980 31 Mar Dave Green Landover, MD KO4 (Retained World & WBC Welterweight Title) 20 Jun Roberto Duran Montreal, Canada L15 (Lost World & WBC Welterweight Title) 25 Nov Roberto Duran New Orleans, LA KO8 (Won World & WBC Welterweight Title) 1981 28 Mar Larry Bonds Syracuse, NY KO10 (Retained World & WBC Welterweight Title) 25 Jun Ayub Kalule Houston, TX KO9 (Won World & WBA Jr. Middleweight Title; vacated 7/91) 16 Sep Thomas Hearns Las Vegas, NV KO14 (Won WBA, Retained World & WBC Welterweight Titles) 1982 15 Feb Bruce Finch Reno, NV KO3 (Retained World Welterweight Title) 1984 11 May Kevin Howard MA KO9 1987 6 Apr Marvelous Marvin Hagler Las Vegas, NV W12 (Won World & WBC Middleweight Title) 1988 7 Nov Don Lalonde Las Vegas, NV KO9 (Won WBC Light Heavyweight and Super Middleweight Titles) 1989 12 Jun Thomas Hearns Las Vegas, NV D12 (Retained WBC Super Middleweight Title) 7 Dec Roberto Duran Las Vegas, NV W12 (Retained WBC Super Middleweight Title) 1991 9 Feb Terry Norris Las Vegas, NV L12 1997 1 Mar Hector "Macho" Camacho KO by 5