"But I'm matching him, Mike!" said Leonard. "I told you what I would do—taunt him, frustrate him, cross his wires, make him mad. Didn't I? And I'm doing it! I was like radar out there. I could see all his punches coming."
No, said Leonard, he was not hurt in the wild ninth round, when it appeared that Hagler had Sugar Ray in trouble in his own corner. "I was just tired," he said. The camera zoomed in on Hagler measuring Leonard for each punch. Then the perspective suddenly widened as Leonard flurried his way out of trouble. Just seconds later, at mid-ring, Leonard caught Hagler with another flurry. "Oh, I love it!" said Leonard with a laugh.
What he loved most of all about watching the fight was listening to his trainer, Angelo Dundee, exhort him between rounds. Before the seventh, Dundee yelled, "Round number 7! Yeah, baby, Roooouuund 7!" Leonard howled as he heard that again. "Look at Angie! He's like a kid. I'm telling you, Angelo was great!" Before the last round Dundee screamed, "Three minutes, champ!"
"Boy, Angelo pumped me up there," said Leonard.
Moments after the fight ended, Leonard leaped on a ring rope. "I was on cloud nine," he said. "I gazed out at the audience and saw currency being exchanged [bets being paid off]. I knew I had it. I just knew."
What he had known, and what others at ringside had sensed, was that he had indeed achieved this most improbable of upsets. As Leonard watched ring announcer Chuck Hull declare it was a split decision and then begin to read off the third judge's card, he leaned forward in the office chair in Trainer's office. "Listen to this!" he said. "This is the greatest feeling in the world, to hear this."
Hull's voice then intoned, "The winner, and new...."
"Yeah!" Leonard said. "Jeez, God, I mean...." Trainer, clapping, burst out laughing.
When asked what he said to Hagler in the ring when he was seen tapping the former champion on the shoulder, Leonard said, "I was saying, 'Hey, we're still friends, right? Still friends?' " To which, according to Leonard, Hagler replied, "It's not fair." Leonard pressed: "No, we're still friends, right?"
Because of the commotion and noise around the ring, the new champion was not sure what Hagler then said. "I think he said, 'Yeah, good fight, good fight,' " Leonard said. He emphatically denied that he said to Hagler, as Hagler later insisted he had, "You beat me." Said Leonard, "I told Marvin, 'You're still the champ.' "