The Closer

Sugar Ray LeonardBy Ted Sares: Daniel Aldo Gonzalez was an Argentinean bomber who went undefeated in his first 49 bouts. His first loss was on points to Johnny Gant in Monaco in 1976. He then won six in a row before losing another decision to Miguel Angel ‘El Zorro” Campanino, 85-5-4 coming in, for the Argentine (FAB) welterweight title. Back in 1975, he fought to a draw with rugged Carlos Maria Gimenez in an unsuccessful bid for this same belt. Gimenez would retire with a sparkling 114-10-5 mark.

In 1979, he was matched with Sugar Ray Leonard, 19-0 at the time, in a bout televised from Tucson, Arizona and announced by Howard Cossel. “Cañonazo” as Gonzalez was known had a gaudy 52-2-4 slate and had never been stopped. He was touted as a real test for the streaking Leonard who by then had victories over Floyd Mayweather, Randy Shields, Armando “El Hombre” Muniz, and power punching Canadian Fernand Marcotte. Significantly, however, he held a TKO won over Johnny Gant, the same man who broke Cañonazo‘s long undefeated streak..

The Fight

Many remember Sugar Ray’s spectacular KOs of Dave Boy Green, Andy Price, Fernand Marcotte, Donny Lalonde, and Bruce Finch, but this one was equally brutal and decisive.

In the opening seconds, Cañonazo landed several decent shots on the moving Leonard and looked like he just might be tough to handle., But then, out of the blue, Sugar Ray landed a malefic right cross that put the stocky Argentinean on Queer Street. Somehow, some way, he got up. The fight should have been halted right there and then, but for some inexplicable reason, Referee Roger Yanez let it continue even though Daniel himself seemed to want it stopped. Ray, being one of the greatest closers in boxing, wasted no time in moving the game Cañonazo into a corner where he pulverized him with a fully leveraged right lead followed by a savage left hook. And that was it. It was the Argentinean’s first stoppage loss.

Attesting to the destruction, Gonzalez retired but then came back two years later and was iced in one by John Nava (0-0 at the time). Ray, of course, would continue his undefeated streak until losing to Roberto Duran in 1980.

But in this one, Sugar Ray Leonard emphatically signaled to the boxing world that once he had his opponent hurt, it was all over. He was the quintessential closer

Article posted on 21.11.2008

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