Tonight at 9:00 p.m. on MSG Network’s “Friday Night Fights,” hosted by John Duddy and Mark Breland: Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns (9/16/81).
The Ring magazine’s “Fight of the Year,” this 1981 battle pinned Sugar Ray Leonard against Tommy Hearns for the World Welterweight Championship. Behind for most of the fight, Leonard put Hearns on the mat in the 13th Round and followed it up in the 14th Round with a staggering right overhand. The blow put Hearns to the ropes and following a combination by Leonard, the referee called the fight – a controversial call considering Hearns was ahead on all three cards.
Breland: “This was like a chess match because both were very smart. As a matter of fact, back in 1977 Tommy sparred Ray, when Ray turned pro, and totally out-boxed him so he knew coming into this fight that he could out-box Ray.”
Duddy: “When Tommy got hurt in the fight, he never clinched.”
Breland: “He never had to clinch because he (usually) knocked everyone out….but in this fight…Ray never really gave him the chance.”
Duddy: “Many people think the fight was stopped a little prematurely…Tommy was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards.”
Breland: “I don’t think it was a premature stop…Tommy was hurt…Ray smelled blood.”
Friday Night Fights is part of MSG Network’s Summer Block Party. For more information go to www.msg.com/summer and join the conversation on Twitter with @MSGNetworks.