By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Tavoris Cloud’s trainer expects personal history to repeat itself Saturday night at Barclays Center.
In February 1991, Abel Sanchez brought another younger, lesser-known fighter to New York to face a legend. Terry Norris, then the WBC junior middleweight champion, dominated “Sugar” Ray Leonard at Madison Square Garden that night and won a 12-round unanimous decision by wide margins on all three scorecards (120-104, 119-103, 116-110).
Though he fought one more time, the legendary Leonard’s loss to Norris essentially ended his celebrated career. Leonard, who was stopped by Hector Camacho in his final fight six years later, was dropped twice by Norris, who was 23 at the time.
Bernard Hopkins, 48, is much older than Leonard was when he fought Norris (34), yet the Philadelphia native remains one of the top three light heavyweights in boxing. Sanchez still suspects Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) will force Hopkins to halt his Hall-of-Fame career once they meet in an HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event for Cloud’s IBF light heavyweight title.
“You know, 22 years ago I brought a young man here to fight another legend, Terry Norris,” Sanchez said. “And nobody gave him a chance. The legend had too many tricks, the legend had too many great fights. And if you all remember the fight, it was a very terrible beating for Ray Leonard. That’s exactly what’s going to happen Saturday night. This legend’s going to be retired and a new star’s going to be born.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.