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SUGAR RAY LEONARD was aged 34 when he challenged champion Terry Norris for the WBC light-middleweight belt on February 9, 1991. 7,495 fans flocked to Madison Square Garden to watch the fight take place.
HAVING not fought for 14 months the legendary Leonard was coming off the back of a unanimous decision win over the glorified Roberto Duran in 1989. Seven years prior to that fight ‘Sugar’ first announced he was to retire from the sport. Several more retirements and comebacks followed.
NORRIS, 11 years Leonard’s senior, was fighting in New York for the first time and with a record of 26-3, was aiming to make his first successful defence of the belt.
LEONARD, a 3-1 favourite, had moved down in weight for the fight. It was his first fight at light-middleweight for nearly 10 years and he came in one-and-a-half pounds heavier than Norris at 154lbs.
NORRIS dominated the fight early on, too fast for the once spectacular Leonard. As early as the second round Leonard was on the canvas, a left hook doing the damage.
THE fight carried on much in the same fashion. Norris, the younger fighter, was handing out a heavy beating and Leonard was down again in the seventh.
SUGAR did manage to make it to the final bell, much to the surprise of many but the result was in no doubt. Scores of 120–104, 119–103, and 116–110 saw Norris retain his belt.
NORRIS praised Leonard after the fight, saying: “It was a sad victory. He’s my idol and I beat him badly. I didn’t want it to be that way. He’s still my idol.”
AFTER the decision was announced, Leonard took the ring microphone and announced, “This is my last fight, It took this fight to show me it is no longer my time.” Leonard did fight again though, six years later, when he was thrashed by Hector Camacho.
NORRIS would go on to make eight more successful defences of the title before Simon Brown of Jamaica captured the belt with a fourth round KO in December 1993. Norris avenged the defeat five months later.