Two weeks prior, Leonard had caught an elbow below the eye while sparring with Odell Hadley. After the swelling developed, Dundee worked on it with a miniature flatiron, like something you might find in a dollhouse. "It's better than ice," Dundee said. "You put it in the ice bucket and it comes out twice as cold." For the full minute between rounds, either Dundee or Morton would press the iced iron against the swelling.
Fed up with being the target of Hearns's jab, Leonard switched to southpaw in the third round and caught Hearns with a right jab; he then switched back and caught him with a looping right. Near the end of the round Leonard darted inside, drilling both hands to Hearns's head. Hearns was totally baffled by Leonard's quickness and agility; it was like trying to catch a puff of smoke, only this smoke was throwing thunderbolts.
When Leonard came back to his corner, Dundee growled at him. "What are you doing fighting him? Don't stand and fight him. Move. Make him move."
The fourth round, won by Hearns, was memorable only because of a brief flurry after the bell. It wasn't the first. "I don't think Ray was trying to hurt him," Pearl said later. "He just slapped him playfully alongside the head." Hearns didn't think it was playful and hit Leonard in the mouth.
Between the fourth and fifth rounds, Pearl ordered Hearns to stop hitting after the bell, "or it's going to cost you points." In the other corner Dundee and Morton were telling Leonard, "You're in good shape. Just keep moving." Leonard moved so well in the fifth that he neglected to punch, although he did score with one good right to the head.
The Leonard who came out for the sixth—the man many said couldn't punch with Hearns—was all over Hearns, blasting through his amateurish defense, driving him backward, digging hard countering hooks to the body, snapping rights off the jaw. With 26 seconds to go Hearns threw a wild right, and Leonard countered underneath with a hook that almost separated Hearns's ribs from his body. Later, Emanuel Steward, Hearns's manager, would say this was the punch from which Hearns never recovered.
Leonard roared in furiously, firing from the hip. Just before the bell he draped Hearns's lanky frame against the ropes. Hearns weaved his way back to his corner like a man who had spent a long night in a bar.
"The sixth should have been the last round," Morton said later. " Ray had him and he got a little excited. If he had just shortened up his punches he'd have knocked him out."
Hearns came out for the seventh like a man going to the guillotine. He was confused by Leonard's blinding speed, and dazed by his unexpected power. Don't let Leonard's baby face and angelic smile fool you; within, there is that same mean beast that inhabits all great fighters.
Now he went after Hearns and tried to dismantle him. He drilled two hooks to Hearns's aching body, ignored a weak right hand and unloaded another volley of hooks. He worked close to Hearns, where Hearns, a long-armed, straight puncher, is particularly ineffective. "Stay inside!" Dundee screamed from the corner. Leonard seemed to take him literally. Hearns looked ready to go at any moment; only his great pride kept him on his feet as hook after hook thudded into his rail-thin body. Then, with 18 seconds remaining, a right hand sent him reeling into a corner. Leonard fired four more shots before the bell.