4/6/87: Sugar Ray Leonard Wins “Superfight” With Hagler

Sugar Ray Leonard Wins “Superfight” With Hagler

April 6, 1987 – Caesar’s Palace

Twenty-seven years ago today, Sugar Ray Leonard – in his first fight since retiring three years earlier due to a detached retina – beat Middleweight champion and 3-1 favorite Marvin Hagler in a split decision.  While the fight is considered among the best of all time, it is still hotly disputed.   A disgusted Hagler, who claims that Leonard said that Hagler had beat him at the end of the fight, quit boxing altogether once it was obvious no rematch was likely

Hagler gave up many consessions for the fight, agreeing to a bigger ring size, Everlast gloves instead of Reyes, and having the fight be a 12-rounder rather than a 15-rounder, which was still allowed at that time – each of which favored Leonard.

Age 30 32
Height/Reach  5-10/ 74 inches  5-9 1/2 /  75 inches
Weight  158  160
Record 33-1-0 (24 KOs) 62-2-2 (52 KOs)
Last Fight  Kevin Howard (TKO-9th)5/11/84 John Mugabi (KO-11th)3/10/86
Title Held WBC, WBA & The Ring Welterweight titles
before retiring after detached retina

WBC, WBA, IBF & The Ring Middleweight titles

Purse $11M
($22.73M in 2014)
($39.27M in 2014)
Punches  Threw: 629
Landed: 306 (49%)
Threw: 792
Landed: 291 (37%)



Hugh McIlvanney, commenting in the British Sunday Times and Sports Illustrated:

What Ray Leonard pulled off in his split decision over Hagler was an epic illusion. . . . His plan was to “steal” rounds with a few flashy and carefully timed flurries and to make the rest of each three-minute session as unproductive as possible for Hagler by circling briskly away from the latter’s persistent pursuit. When he made his sporadic attacking flourishes, he was happy to exaggerate hand speed at the expense of power, and neither he nor two of the scorers seemed bothered by the fact that many of the punches landed on the champion’s gloves and arms.

Jim Murray, long-time sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times favored Leonard.

It wasn’t even close…He didn’t just outpoint Hagler, he exposed him. He made him look like a guy chasing a bus. In snowshoes. Leonard repeatedly beat Hagler to the punch. When he did, he hit harder. He hit more often. He made Hagler into what he perceived him to be throughout his career—a brawler, a swarmer, a man who could club you to death only if you stood there and let him. If you moved, he was lost.

Ringside press split 6–5, with 3 draws.


Leonard Hagler
Judge JoJo GuerraLeonard outpunched Hagler, outsmarted him, outboxed him. He looked just great.
Sugar Ray Leonard was making him miss a lot, and then counterpunching him. . . .
 He made Marvin Hagler come to him. He dictated the fight
 118  110
Judge Dave Moretti

Obviously, Hagler was the aggressor, but he was not the effective aggressor.
You can’t chase and get hit and chase and get hit, and get credit for it.
Besides, the hardest punching was by Leonard. 

115 113
Judge Lou FilippoHagler was doing all the work. The referee, Richard Steele, warned Leonard
at least once every round about holding. Leonard fought in spurts.
Leonard would run in and grab and hold. He did what he had to do.
But I can’t see a guy holding that much and getting points for it.
 113  115
  112 117 
 7  5
   117  111
116  113
 114  115
 115  114
 115  114
118  111
 117  111
 114  114
   114 114
   114  115
 117  112
 115  113
 115 116
114 114





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