OTDIBH: Sugar Ray Leonard Wins Middleweight Title

On This Day In Boxing History (OTDIBH) Sugar Ray Leonard defeated Marvin Hagler in one of the most highly disputed decisions in boxing. Hagler, a natural southpaw, opened the fight in an orthodox stance but lost the first two rounds. By the third round he came out in his natural southpaw stance and started to come back on the scorecard.

As Hagler tired Leonard, he began to clinch with more frequency (in total referee Richard Steele gave him over 30 warnings for holding, although never deducted a point). Hagler buckled Leonard’s knees with a right uppercut near the end of the round, which finished with Leonard on the ropes. Hagler continued to score effectively in round six. Leonard, having slowed down, was obliged to fight more and run less.

Round nine was the most exciting round of the fight. Hagler hurt Leonard with a left cross and pinned him in a corner. Leonard was in trouble, then furiously tried to fight his way out of the corner. The action see-sawed back and forth for the rest of the round, with each man having his moments. Round ten was tame by comparison, as the pace slowed after the furious action of the previous round.

After the fight concluded, Hagler stated that Leonard told him “You beat me man” and Hagler was beyond happy to hear that. Once the decision went in Leonard’s favor, he of course denied saying that and claimed to have said “you’re a great champion.” This fight will always be considered controversial, and there was never a rematch as Hagler retired after that fight.

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