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Who Do You Pick “Sugar” Ray Leonard or Floyd “Money” Mayweather?

Image: Who Do You Pick “Sugar” Ray Leonard or Floyd “Money” Mayweather?

By Ken Hissner: Who would you pick between two of the all-time greats? Would it be the 5-time Division World champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, and IBHOF inductee “Sugar” Ray Leonard or 5-time Division World champion, Olympic Bronze Medalist, and IBHOF inductee Floyd “Money” Mayweather?

Leonard fought in a golden era of top boxers like “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, Wilfred “El Radar” Benitez and he defeated each and every one of them and all were inducted into the International Hall of Fame!

Leading up to becoming a professional Leonard had a brilliant amateur career going 145-5 with 75 knockouts. In the 1973 Golden Gloves, he defeated future WBA World Lightweight champion Hilmer Kenty in the finals and repeated winning again in 1974. In 1975 he won a Gold Medal at the Pan American Games in Mexico City.

In 1976 Leonard was on one of if not the greatest Olympic team in the history of the Olympics winning the Light Welterweight Gold Medal in Montreal, Canada, defeating boxers from Sweden, Soviet Union, Great Britain, East Germany, Poland, and Cuba all by scores of 5-0.

Let’s take a look at Mayweather’s amateur career going 84-9. He won the Golden Gloves title in 1993, 1994, and 1996. At the 1996 Olympics, he defeated boxers from Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Cuba losing a disputed decision in the semi-finals to a boxer from Bulgaria earning a Bronze Medal.

After winning the Olympics, Leonard announced that he was retiring from boxing. He planned to go to the University of Maryland and major in business administration and communications. However, when his mother suffered a heart attack and his father was stricken by meningitis and tuberculosis, Leonard decided to turn professional to make money for his family.

In February of 1977, Leonard turned professional winning his first 13 fights including wins over Wilie “Fireball” Rodriguez, 10-1, and Frank Santore, Jr., 27-3-1. In his next fight, he faced Floyd Mayweather, 15-1, scoring a pair of knockdowns in the eighth round and a stoppage in the tenth round in September of 1978. Yes, the father of future world champion Floyd Jr.

In Leonard’s next fight in October he defeated Randy Shields, 31-4-1, and in December stopped 1968 Olympian Armando Muniz, 44-13-1, in six rounds putting him into retirement.

In August of 1979, Leonard won his first title, the North American Boxing Federation stopping Pete Ranzany, 45-3-1, in four rounds. In November he won his first world title defeating Puerto Rico’s Wilfred “El Radar” Benitez, 38-0-1, with a fifteenth-round stoppage. In his first defense in March of 1980, he knocked out the UK’S Dave ‘Boy’ Green, 33-2, in four rounds improving his record to 26-0.

In June Leonard would return to Montreal and learn a hard lesson in fighting his opponent’s fight instead of his own loss to former WBC & WBA World Lightweight champion Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, 71-1, in a close decision over fifteen rounds. With revenge on his mind for the next five months, he would fight his fight making a fool of Duran having him quit a 2:44 of the eighth round to retain his WBC Welterweight title.

In June of 1981, Leonard would move up in weight to win the WBA Super Lightweight title stopping Uganda’s Ayub Kalule, 36-0, who was counted out after the bell in nine rounds.

This set up one of the all-time great fights moving up again in weight taking on WBC & WBA World Welterweight champion Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, 32-0, with 30 knockouts in September trailing after thirteen rounds by scores of 124-122, 125-121 and 125-122 needing a knockout.

In the fourteenth round in what would be one of the courageous and greatest comebacks when he would stop Hearns at 1:45 of the round earning both fighters the 1981 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.

In February of 1982, Leonard scored three knockdowns in stopping Bruce Finch, 28-3, in three rounds. He was scheduled to defend the Undisputed World Welterweight Championship against Roger Stafford on May 14, 1982. He was then going to defend the title against Aaron Pryor in the fall. While training to fight Stafford, Leonard discovered that he had a detached retina in his left eye. The fight was canceled and he had successful surgery to repair the retina on May 9, 1982. He announced his retirement on November 9, 1982.

Leonard would return to the ring some twenty-seven months later against Philly’s Kevin Howard, 20-4-1, coming off the canvas to stop his opponent in the ninth round. He wasn’t quite the same in his return. Again he would retire.

Leonard would return to the ring one month shy of three years to challenge WBC World Middleweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, 62-2-2, with 52 knockouts, in April of 1987 at Caesars Palace, Outdoor Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hagler seemed overconfident going into this fight and paid the price.

Leonard wasn’t as easy had he thought to hit and fell behind early losing a split decision by 115-113, 118-110, and a more realistic 115-113 giving Leonard another world division title. Hagler was so disturbed he would never fight again.

Leonard would move up again to another weight class to take on and defeat WBC World Light Heavyweight champion Donny “Golden Boy” Lalonde, 31-2, of Canada in November of 1988.

The vacant WBC World Super Middleweight title would also be at stake. Leonard came off the canvas in the fourth round ahead after eight rounds 77-74, 77-75 behind 76-75. In the ninth round, he would stop Lalonde at 2:30 of the round to capture two more division titles.

Leonard would decide to give up the Light Heavyweight title and in a rematch defend his WBC World Super Middleweight title against WBO World Super Middleweight champion Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, 46-3. He would come off the canvas in the third and eleventh rounds to end up with a split decision draw by scores of 113-112, 112-113, and 112-112.

Six months later in December Leonard would have a third match with Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, 85-7, win an easy decision over Duran 116-111, 120-110, and 119-109, at the Mirage Hotel & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It would be fourteen months before he would return to the ring being knocked down in the second and seventh rounds losing a lopsided decision to WBC World Super Welterweight champion “Terrible” Terry Norris, 26-3, winner of thirteen of his last fourteen fights, over 12 rounds.

For some reason, financially possible, he returned to the ring some six years later losing to IBC Middleweight champion Hector “Macho” Camacho, 62-3-1, being stopped in the fifth round for the first time in his career. He ended his career at 36-3-1 with 25 knockouts.

Now let’s take a look at the professional career of Mayweather who in October of 1996 would turn professional winning his first seventeen fights than winning the WBC World Super Featherweight title stopping Genaro Hernandez, 38-1-1, in eight rounds putting him into retirement.

Mayweather would defend his title five times and in his sixth defense stop Diego Corrales, 33-0, in ten rounds at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, Nevada. After a pair of defenses defeating Carlos Hernandez, 33-2-1, though suffering the first knockdown of his career in the sixth round by decision in May of 2001 and stopping Jesus “El Matador” Chavez, 35-1, after nine rounds.

In April of 2002 Mayweather in a dirty and tough fight against WBC World Lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo, 45-4-1, he won what many including this writer would consider a fortunate win though scores didn’t reflect on it at 116-111 and 115-111 twice with Chavez losing a point hitting on the break in the eighth round and Mayweather losing one in the tenth for elbowing.

In the rematch, in December through the scores were much closer he won a solid decision over Castillo by scores of 116-113 and 115-113 twice.

Three fights later Mayweather would step up in weight and win the WBC World Light Welterweight title defeating DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, 28-2-1, over 12 rounds. Two fights later he stopped Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, 39-6, in six rounds. Then stop former WBA Light Welterweight champ Sharmba “Little Big Man” Mitchell, 56-4, in six rounds.

Mayweather would again step up in weight to defeat IBF World Welterweight champion Zab Judah, 34-3, over 12 rounds. Next, he would take on the WBC World champion Carlos Manuel Baldomir, 43-9-6, adding another title winning a lopsided decision.

Again moving up in weight Mayweather would take on 1991 Olympic Gold Medalist and WBC World Super Welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, 38-4, in another close split decision win that had me and commentator Larry Merchant wondering why De La Hoya stopped using his jab in the late rounds that he had been so successful with.

When asked he replied, “it sure was working wasn’t it Larry?” At ringside the other commentator, Manny Steward said: “I’ve known Oscar for a long time and that was not a good answer”. Why no rematch?

Next up would be WBC World Super Lightweight champion the UK’s Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, 43-0, stopping him in ten rounds. Then came WBA World Super Lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, 50-4-1, defeating him by a lopsided decision.

Then Mayweather would win a lopsided decision over WBA World Super Welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley, 46-5, coming off back-to-back stoppages over WBC Welterweight and Light Middleweight champion Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga, 28-6-1, and former WBO, IBF and WBA Super World Welterweight champion Antonio Margarita, 37-5.

Mayweather would follow up with three wins regaining the WBC World Welterweight title over champion “Vicious” Victor Ortiz, 29-2-2, winning the WBA World Super Welterweight title over Miguel “Junito” Cotto, 37-2, and WBC Interim World Welterweight champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, 31-1-1.

Then in September of 2013 Mayweather would defeat WBC World Super Welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 42-0-1, by majority decision though this writer felt Alvarez was fortunate to win a round being completely outclassed by Mayweather.

Next would be another difficult win for Mayweather defeating Marcus “El Chino” Maidana, 35-3, by majority decision over 12 rounds. This writer had it a draw. It was close enough to earn a rematch with Mayweather not fighting Maidana’s fight but his returning to what he knew best “boxing” his ears off in the rematch improving his record to 47-0.

In May of 2015, Mayweather would defeat former six-division world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 57-5-2. It was discovered afterward Pacquiao had injured his shoulder in training but never disclosed it not wanting to give up the big payday.

In September Mayweather would equal Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record by defeating former IBF Welterweight champion Andre Berto, 30-3, by a lopsided decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In August of 2017, Mayweather would take an ill-advised opponent in MMA fighter Conor McGregor, who was making his professional debut. For nine rounds he averaged about three punches a round carrying McGregor. In the tenth, he opened up stopping this novice from surpassing Marciano’s 49-0 record to 50-0.

On November 7, 2018, Mayweather called off what was to be another official match to agree to an exhibition of what the McGregor fight should have been going to Japan against Tenshin Nasukawa on December 31st. Mayweather was at 147 and Nasukawa 137 with Mayweather flooring him three times in the first round before Nasukawa’s corner threw in the towel after the third knockdown. The announced attendance was 29,105.

On June 6, 2021, on Showtime PPV Mayweather continued his exhibitions facing novice Logan Paul, 0-1, giving up 34 pounds going the full 8 rounds. On May 21, 2022, he took on former sparring partner Donald Moore, dropping him in the eighth and final round though going the distance in this exhibition in Dubai. Moore hadn’t fought since September of 2016 compiling an 18-0-1 record never fighting an opponent with a winning record. Go figure!

Mayweather’s biggest accomplishment besides his 50-0 record was his record earnings at $915 million.

So fans, who do you think was the better of the two? “Sugar” Ray Leonard or Floyd “Money” Mayweather?

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