Ayub Kalule vs. Sugar Ray Leonard

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1981-06-25 : Sugar Ray Leonard 153 lbs beat Ayub Kalule 153 lbs by TKO at 3:06 in round 9 of 15

  • WBA Junior Middleweight Title (5th defense by Kalule)


  • Leonard was guaranteed $2.5 million, while Kalule's guarantee was $150,000.
  • The fight was shown live on closed-circuit television and was rebroadcast by NBC's Sports World on July 5.
  • Bob Arum's Top Rank promoted the fight. Arum predicted that Kalule would beat Leonard and told the media that it was only at the insistence of Leonard's attorney, Mike Trainer, that he agreed to promote the fight. "I don't want to take the blame when Leonard loses this fight," Arum said. "The match wasn't my idea." He stated that a loss to Kalule would hurt the gate for Leonard's upcoming fight against Thomas Hearns. "That's why this fight is idiotic," Arum said. Trainer responded, "I don't think it makes much sense for Bob Arum to make an issue of why Ray Leonard is fighting Ayub Kalule. But, then, Bob Arum quite often does things that don't make much sense." Trainer added, "I am Ray's business manager, but I don't make boxing decisions. When they make a decision on opponents, I don't even get a vote."
  • Irving Rudd, a Top Rank press agent, brought a witch doctor named Mugimba to Houston to drum up publicity. Kalule wanted nothing to do with him. "I am embarrassed," he said. "Why do they do this to me, like I am a fool? I didn't just come out of the jungle. Take him away."
  • Leonard's trunks for the fight were black and had a yellow cobra head on the left leg. While Leonard was training in Phoenix, he dispatched an aide to the local library to research Ugandan witch doctors. Witch doctors, came back the report, fear the color black and aren't all that happy with snakes, which are too quick to put a spell on.
  • The crowd at the Astrodome was estimated at between 25,000 and 30,000.
  • Leonard dropped Kalule with a right-left-right combination in the ninth round. Kalule, dazed, got up at the count of six, and referee Carlos Berrocal stopped the fight. Kalule told New York sportscaster Bill Mazer, who was doing the closed-circuit broadcast, "I told the referee to stop it."
  • After the fight was stopped, Leonard did a full 360-degree, no-hands flip.
  • In the co-main event, Thomas Hearns stopped Pablo Baez in four rounds to defend the WBA Welterweight Championship.