Emile Griffith finally got his shot against Cuban-Mexican fighter “Mantequilla” Napoles at Inglewood’s Forum before a hostile crowd of over fifteen thousand. Before an audience that included many Hall-of-Famers, “Mantequilla,” as smooth as butter handled an aging Griffith and won via unanimous decision.
Cotto and Pacquiao engaged in an epic match at the MGM Grand and millions watched around the world, the fight started out on even terms early. But Manny quickly proved too fast and explosive for Cotto, knocking him to the canvas twice before taking control in the middle rounds and retreating before finally stopping Cotto in round twelve, when referee Jack Reis decided to stop this prolonged beating for Cotto. This monumental victory represents seven world titles won by Pacquiao-mania at its pinnacle.
As DeMarco entered his home turf of Boston Garden to seek revenge against Basilio after their initial fight in New York had been fiery, the Boston Garden rematch was nothing but explosive. DeMarco used powerful punches that put Basilio in serious peril during the middle rounds. Still, somehow the indomitable New Yorker battled back, finally dropping DeMarco twice before earning an immediate stoppage and earning himself what Ring Magazine later declared as their Fight of the Year award.
“The Golden Boy” wanted to redeem himself after his controversial loss to Felix Trinidad; Shane Mosley wished to show that he was a great fighter. Everyone in boxing saw this fight as an ideal pairing of two of the greatest fighters ever at their primes competing for world title belts – an eventful night when a huge crowd watched Oscar and Shane put on an outstanding exhibition of high-octane boxing that provided them with entertainment all night long; eventually, it was “Sugar” Shane who rallied late on for an exciting points victory!
Benitez vs. Leonard was a thrilling dream match between gifted boxers, as 23-year-old “Sugar” Ray challenged 21-year-old Puerto Rican phenom Wilfred Benitez for the WBC world title on live primetime television. An intense tactical battle took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with both boxers competing to maintain position and foil each other’s attacks; their impressive reflexes and counterpunching skills made this challenge all the more daunting. Leonard eventually earned his maiden title victory due to hand speed advantage coupled with his great finishing instincts forcing a stoppage in the final seconds of battle.
Sugar Ray finally achieved his long-awaited and overdue ascension to the welterweight throne with this action-packed historic bout. Tommy Bell wasn’t an easy opponent either. This fifteen rounder at Madison Square Garden will go down as one of Sugar Rays toughest and most thrilling fights ever- dropping Robinson twice with left hooks before sending Bell into submission in round 11. Momentum often changed in this thrilling, action-packed contest before Robinson finally secured a unanimous decision and his title. Finally!
Philadelphia Municipal Stadium witnessed Sugar Ray defend his welterweight championship against Gavilan before almost thirty thousand spectators. Robinson suffered an early cut over his right eye that persisted throughout the fight but ultimately Sugar Ray’s class and skill were enough for a hard-fought points victory against “The Cuban Hawk”.
Ross vs. McLarnin made its first appearance at Madison Square Garden Bowl, in front of over sixty thousand paying customers. Although McLarnin attempted to defend his title against Ross, he found himself overwhelmed by Ross’ double whammy of activity and smarts; ultimately, a split decision decided in favor of Ross after fifteen highly competitive rounds, crowning him a new champion.
Leonard vs Hearns was an epic battle to determine the one true king and best boxer worldwide pound-for-pound. After taking an early lead through Hearns’ two-fisted attack in round 6, Leonard reversed course and forced “The Hitman” to move again with two two-fisted blows in round six. Still, Hearns held on until round thirteen when Leonard made the scorecards meaningless with a devastating counterpunch that rendered all points meaningless before eventually stopping the bout in round 14. This thrilling clash was witnessed by a sold-out crowd at Caesars Palace and millions more watching via closed circuit television channels worldwide!
Duran vs. Leonard was one of the first truly monumental “superfights” since Ali vs Frazier to capture the public’s imagination like few fights before or since. Over 46 thousand fans packed Olympic Stadium, while millions watched via closed circuit telecast from arenas worldwide as “Manos de Piedra” challenged Sugar Ray. Montrealers surprisingly supported a wild Panamanian over the champion who had enjoyed immense success during the Montreal Olympics four years prior. Leonard was ultimately not enough to overcome Duran’s impeccable condition and drive for success in fifteen riveting rounds, where they both displayed incredible performances worthy of all-time great status. Duran eventually prevailed via split decision after an exceptional fight that could easily have gone either way.
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