Most boxing fans consider ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson the greatest pound-for-pound boxer. Another ‘Sugar’ Ray, Leonard, followed in his footsteps.

The significant difference is that Robinson won his first 40 fights before losing to Jake LaMotta, 30-5-2, while Leonard only had 40 fights, mainly due to a detached retina upon returning from going 4-2-1. He had won his first 27 fights before losing to Roberto ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran, 71-1, whom he defeated in their rematch and again later.

After losing to LaMotta, Robinson won his next 91 fights, going 5-1 against LaMotta. LaMotta said, “I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes.”

As an amateur, Robinson, born Walker Smith, Jr., was 85-5 with 69 stoppages, 40 in the first round, winning New York AAU and Golden Gloves titles.

Leonard achieved a record of 145-5 with 75 stoppages. He won a Gold Medal in the 1975 Pan American Games and the 1976 Montreal Olympics, defeating six opponents, all 5-0, from Sweden, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, East Germany, Poland, and Cuba.

In December 1946, Robinson (73-1-1) won the NBA world welterweight title by defeating Tommy Bell (39-10-3) at Madison Square Garden. In February 1951, Robinson (121-1-2) claimed the world middleweight title by stopping Jake LaMotta (78-14-3) at Chicago Stadium.

Leonard recaptured the title in the rematch by embarrassing Duran at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. He stopped Duran in eight rounds. Leonard then went on to win against Larry Bonds, who had a record of 29-3, and the WBA Super Welterweight champion Ayub Kalule, who had a 36-0 record at the Houston Astrodome in Texas. He stopped Kalule in nine rounds.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, Leonard returned to defend his WBC Welterweight title against WBA champion Thomas “Hitman” Hearns. Leonard was behind in the first thirteen rounds but made a comeback and stopped Hearns in the fourteenth round.

The scores were 124-122, 125-121, and 125-122 in favor of Hearns, and Leonard needed a knockout to win. This fight was named Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year. Later, Leonard defeated Bruce Finch, who had a record of 28-3-1, in three rounds in Reno, Nevada.

In May of 1982, Leonard was scheduled to defend against Roger Stafford and then Aaron “Hawk” Pryor in the fall. However, while training, Leonard discovered that he had a detached retina in his left eye. As a result, he announced his retirement in November.

Leonard returned to the ring in May 1984, coming off the canvas to stop Kevin Howard, 20-4-1, in nine rounds at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, again retiring.

Almost three years later, moving up to middleweight in April of 1987, challenging WBC champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, 62-2, in Las Vegas, Nevada, scoring a major upset by split decision retiring Hagler from boxing.

Leonard wouldn’t fight again until November of 1988, moving up to challenge WBC Light Heavyweight champion Donny “Golden Boy” Lalonde, 31-2, coming off the canvas in the fourth round to stop Lalonde in the ninth round ahead by split decision after eight rounds also taking the WBC Super Middleweight title.

In June of 1989, Leonard, in a rematch with WBO champion Hearns, 46-3, in a WBC Super Middleweight defense, battled to a split decision draw in Las Vegas, Nevada. Leonard was down in the fourth and eleventh rounds.

In December, Leonard won a lopsided decision in his third fight with Duran, 85-7, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In February 1991, at Madison Square Garden in New York, Leonard fought against WBC junior middleweight champion “Terrible” Terry Norris, 26-3. Leonard was knocked down twice and beaten by a twelve-round unanimous decision.

In Leonard’s final fight for the IBC Middleweight title, he was defeated by Hector “Macho” Camacho, who had a record of 62-3-1, in five rounds in Atlantic City, New Jersey. His final record was 36-3-1.

Getting back to Robinson in his first defense, he lost to Randy Turpin, 40-2-1, in London, UK, in July of 1951. In the rematch, Robinson re-won the title two months later, defeating Turpin at the Polo Grounds in New York.

In March of 1952 Robinson defeated Carl “Bobo” Olson, 48-5, in San Francisco, California, and a month later knocked out Rocky Graziano, 67-8-6, as Chicago Stadium.

Two months later, Robinson attempted to win the world light heavyweight title in June ahead of champion Joey Maxim, 78-18-4, #173, after twelve rounds at Yankee Stadium. The heat was 104 degrees (forcing a referee replacement), and Robinson #157 ½, ahead 10-3, 9-3-1, and 7-3-1, was not able to continue due to heat prostration.

Robinson was never quite the same, returning to the ring in January of 1955, some two and a half years later, scoring a knockout but two weeks later losing to Ralph “Tiger” Jones, 32-12-3.

After four wins, Robinson re-won the middleweight title, knocking out Carl “Bobo” Olson, 71-7, at Chicago Stadium in December 1955. He would lose his title to Gene Fullmer and win the rematch, and the same with Carmen Basilio.

In January of 1960, you knew Robinson was finished losing back-to-back split decisions fights to Paul Pender, 35-5-2, at the Bosten Garden. A draw with the NBA champion and a loss to Gene Fullmer, 52-4-1, and the rest is history, finishing his career with a loss to Joey Archer, 44-1, by decision at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in November of 1975 ending with a 174-19-6 record with 109 stoppages at the age of 44.

Both were inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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