SI Vault
William Nack
April 20, 1987
Sugar Ray Leonard couldn't help exulting over his upset of Marvelous Marvin Hagler
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April 20, 1987

'everything I Did Worked'

Sugar Ray Leonard couldn't help exulting over his upset of Marvelous Marvin Hagler

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"It was like a revelation," Leonard said on Friday afternoon. "I wish I could really describe it. My head is so clogged up now. Sometimes, during the day, I'm so tired I just lie down. I say, 'What the hell's wrong? I'm O.K. now.' We'll sit here and have a few beers, and I'll try to reminisce and think about it and create the vivid scenario to see it. But it's not clear enough, not clear enough to say, 'That's it!' I know what I accomplished, but I don't feel anything yet. I'm mentally exhausted. I busted my chops in training. People don't know what I went through."

Although he says he felt numb last week, Leonard was animated in Trainer's law office on Friday as he watched a tape of the bout on a small black-and-white screen. Looking at the third round, as Hagler chased him and swung and missed, Leonard cried out, "Look at that! He can't catch me."

To be sure, his speed and his ability to move frustrated Hagler. "I was so fast, man!" said the 30-year-old former welterweight and junior middleweight champion of the world. "He couldn't hit me for nothing! When he finally did hit me, it was like, 'This is it?' He was more of a pusher than a puncher. I couldn't believe he was that slow, that vulnerable, that susceptible to punches. It was my speed that upset him, my movement that threw him off. People said I lost the zip, but my hands are just as fast as they were when I was 20 years old!"

Looking at the fifth round, Leonard watched his opponent dogging him and throwing one punch at a time. "Look!" Leonard said. "He never threw combinations. He always threw, like, one punch and that was all."

"The only time he threw more than one punch was when you were on the ropes," said Trainer.

"Yeah, but never short combinations," said Leonard.

Here Hagler landed a solid uppercut that would win him the fifth round on all three judges' cards. "That was a good shot," Leonard admitted. "He stunned me. But he didn't know I was hurt. Watch this!" As the bell rang, ending the round, Hagler pushed Leonard away. "He was so mad!" said Leonard with a laugh.

Leonard went flat-footed in the sixth. "I'm a little tired here," he said. "Five years ago he couldn't have touched me!" That was when the two men had been expected to have their first joust, the one that never came off because Leonard suffered a detached retina in his left eye and retired.

As he viewed the seventh round, Leonard mused about what Thomas Hearns must have thought about the fight. Instead of boxing Hagler, as Leonard had done, Hearns had gone toe-to-toe with the champ two years ago, and he was knocked out in the third round. "You realize how Hearns must feel looking at this?" Leonard asked. "He must be sick. I was in a totally different world in this fight." Watching Hagler chase and miss once again, Leonard said, "Marvin's like an amateur."

"One of the greatest middleweights who ever lived," said Trainer.

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