Sugar Ray Leonard captured the undisputed world welterweight championship last night with a 14th round technical knockout over previously-undefeated Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns. The end came at 2:45 of the round with Leonard pummeling Hearns on the ropes, and Hearns barely able to defend himself.
There were two knockdowns in the fight, both scored in the 13th round by Leonard, who was trailing on all three scoreboards entering the final stanza.
The fight started with Leonard circling quickly, both to his right and his left. Hearns, occasionally an anxious starter, calmly stalked the smaller fighter and threw a few left jabs, most of which missed. Leonard did nothing by way of offense.
The second, third, and fourth rounds were much the same, with Leonard moving constantly, trying to stay away from Hearns' 78-inch reach. Hearns seemed content to save his energy and win the rounds simply by being the aggressor.
In the fifth stanza Leonard waved his hand as if to throw a bolo punch. Hearns responded by mocking Leonard, and neither fighter landed a significant punch the entire round.
The sixth round was the first big round of the fight. Leonard staggered Hearns with a strong combination in the middle of the round and quickly took advantage. At least three other Leonard combinations found their mark before the round ended, but Hearns managed to stay on his feet.
The seventh stanza was much the same as the sixth. Leonard scored repeatedly as Hearns offered little resistance.
Somehow, Hearns pulled himself together between the seventh and eighth rounds. He started the round on his toes, circiling as Leonard had done earlier in the fight. Hearns apparently took most of the eight through twelfth rounds by moving steadily and outjabbing his shorter opponent.
Early in the thirteenth, however, Leonard opened up. A solid right to the jaw rocked Hearns, who quickly retreated. Sensing the kill, Leonard closed in. A barrage of punches sent Hearns through the ropes for the first knockdown of his professional career. Leonard spent the rest of the round chasing Hearns, and another combination sent the Detroit fighter to the canvas with five seconds left in the stanza.
The fourteenth and final round started with Hearns circling around the ring, trying to regain his composure. Midway through the round, however, a tremendous Leonard right hand staggered Hearns. Leonard followed Hearns to the ropes and punched him at well. Referee Davey Pear, stopped the fight when Leonard landed a dozen solid blows with Hearns draped over the ropes.