By Frank Warren
IT’S hard to believe last week was the 25th anniversary of Sugar Ray Leonard’s epic with Marvin Hagler.
Just as the public now are demanding to see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr get it on, back in the 1980s they wanted a super-fight and a showdown between Leonard, who was the sport’s golden boy, against the mean and moody Hagler.
It's hard to believe that last week was the 25th anniversary of Sugar Ray Leonard's epic fight with Marvin Hagler.
Just like the public now are demanding to see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr get it on, back in the 1980s they wanted a super-fight and a showdown between Leonard, who was the sport's golden boy, against the mean and moody Hagler was the biggest fight at the time.
And on 6 April 1987 they fought in a specially built 15,000 seat outdoor stadium at Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas with millions watching live on closed circuit TV.
Hagler, who came into the fight as the WBC World Middleweight Champion, got the slightly bigger payday of $12m while Leonard earned $11m, which was massive money then and is still big by today’s standards.
Many feared for Leonard's health as he was coming back from a near three year lay-off and eye surgery to take on the fearsome southpaw who was unbeaten in 11 years and had defeated Roberto Duran and stopped Tommy Hearns in a thrilling three round war.
Leonard made one of the most remarkable comebacks in boxing history when he danced and fought his way to 12-round decision to capture Hagler's title and reserve his place amongst the greats.
It wasn't a thriller, but Leonard being the smaller man, fought a clever fight at a distance with constant movement so the heavier-punching Hagler could not do any damage. Leonard later said, “I was so fast, man! He couldn't hit me for nothing! When he finally did hit me, it was like, 'This is it?’”
Leonard would plant his feet every now and then and unload with a flurry of punches to catch the judges' eyes. Hagler fell behind on the scorecards and despite coming on in the later rounds he couldn’t take him out.
One judge had it 118-110 for Leonard, one had it 115-113 for Hagler and the last one had it 115-113 for Leonard. Many people who watched it saw a different fight and had a different winner and debate still fiercely rages today. I thought Leonard well won the fight.
Hagler felt that he was robbed of the title after working up the hard way without any favours whereas Leonard was the media darling propelled to the top on the back of his Olympic gold medal.
Hagler never fought again after losing to Leonard, hurt and disillusioned he retired just over a year later and went to live in Italy.
Leonard fought for another 10 years in a career that culminated in world titles at five different weight divisions and was named boxer of the decade for the 1980s.
Frustratingly, negotiations have repeatedly broken down between the Pacquiao and Mayweather camps in the last few years over pre-fight drug testing to splitting the purse.
Leonard, who has told Pacquiao and Mayweather to step into the ring for the sake of the sport and their legacies, said recently, "More than damaging to boxing, it's damaging to their legacy. This is history, for people to say 'I remember when'. It's beyond money."
Yet Leonard along with Hagler, Hearns and Duran, who made up the Fabulous Four, all fought in nine fights in nearly a decade and weren't afraid of putting their records or titles on the line.
Seeing the lunatic who disrupted the Oxford-Cambridge boat race last Saturday reminded me of the ‘Fan Man’ during the Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield rematch nearly 20 years ago.
James Miller, who was known for pulling stunts at high profile sports events, landed his paraglider on the ring in the seventh round and got tangled in the ropes. He was then dragged into the crowd and battered by Bowe’s entourage.
The fight was delayed by 30 minutes and many think the delay cost Bowe the fight.
In 2003 Miller was found dead in a remote part of Alaska after an apparent suicide.
TV disaster area Audley Harrison contacted me this week to see if could help to put his upcoming fight against Ali Adams on BoxNation.
The man who said he’s never work with me ever again and responsible for the BBC pulling out of the sport whilst his fight against David Haye partly the reason for Sky dropping boxing Pay Per View enthused that his addition would attract subscribers – or more likely drive them away!
East Ender TV producer Mark Burnett, who created the Apprentice and hit Contender series, is joining up with movie director James Cameron to create a new series called "Robogeddon,"
The show will start shooting later this year and will feature robots fighting to the death.
Tyson Fury shouldn’t have too much trouble with 40-year-old Irishman Martin Rogan tonight in Belfast.
The Manchester traveller will have a massive height and reach advantage over the shorter Rogan which he should use, although Fury has a tendency to get hit and hurt. He should end the proceedings in a few rounds.
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