Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran (1st meeting)

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1980-06-20 : Sugar Ray Leonard 145 lbs lost to Roberto Duran 145½ lbs by UD in round 15 of 15


  • The fight was co-promoted by Bob Arum and Don King.
  • Duran would earn $1.5 million, by far his biggest payday ever, while Leonard stood to make between $7.5 million and $10 million, more money than any man had ever collected for a fight. Leonard would receive the $3.5 million paid by the Olympic Installations Board to stage the fight, plus all the money for the delayed home television broadcast rights—between $500,000 and $800,000. Leonard would also get 80% of the $500,000 to $700,000 from the sale of foreign TV rights, with the promoters getting the rest. Finally, Leonard would receive 80% of the closed-circuit TV revenues—with the promoters getting the remaining 20%—after the first $2.5 million of those revenues came off the top. From that $2.5 million, Duran would get his $1.5 million, and the remaining $1 million would go to the promoters to cover expenses. All in all, the package virtually assured Leonard more than $7.5 million.
  • Duran's health caused concern when, three days before the fight, he was forced to spend two hours having his heart checked. After the EKG had revealed an abnormality in his heartbeat, Dr. Bernard Chaitman, a cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute, was called in. "His EKG showed some findings that, in a normal person, might be interpreted as coronary artery disease," Chaitman said. "This is narrowing of the arteries of the heart. However, this type of EKG pattern is often seen in highly trained athletes. In a well-trained athlete, the heart muscle may be slightly thicker than in an average individual, giving rise to an unusual type of EKG pattern. What happened in Duran's case is his pattern was slightly more marked than in the average boxer." So Duran underwent another exam. "Everything was within normal limits," Chaitman said. "He was cleared for the fight."
  • Leonard was a 9 to 5 favorite.
  • The fight was shown on closed circuit television in 310 locations in the United States and Canada and on pay-per-view cable systems in Los Angeles, California and Columbus, Ohio.
  • The fight was shown on ABC's Wide World of Sports on July 29, 1980.
  • 46,317 fans attended the fight at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
  • As Duran was entering the ring, Joe Frazier, who was ringside for the fight, was asked by New York Times columnist Dave Anderson if Duran reminded him of anybody. It was a leading question, for Anderson thought that Duran's ferocity would remind Frazier of himself. "Yeah," Frazier replied. "He reminds me of Charles Manson."
  • Duran was incorrectly announced in the ring as a majority decision winner. Italy's Angelo Poletti's scorecard had been inaccurately tabulated as 147-147. After the mistake was discovered, the result was announced as a unanimous decision for Duran at the post-fight press conference. Judge Raymond Baldeyrou of France scored it 6-4-5, Englishman Harry Gibbs' tally read 6-5-4, and Poletti had it 3-2-10. Sports Illustrated called Polatti's scorecard "a monument to indecision."


  • Roberto Duran: "He is the best I have fought. He hit me hard a couple of times, but I was never in bad shape. He was pretty good, but he had to be because he was fighting me."
  • Ray Arcel, Duran's trainer: "Leonard surprised me taking some of the punches he did."
  • Sugar Ray Leonard: "I said I would fight Duran Flat-footed and I did. People questioned whether I could take the big punch. I showed them. I have to give Duran a lot of credit. He is the toughest man I've ever fought."
  • Angelo Dundee, Leonard's trainer: "You never fight to a guy's strength. You try to offset it, and Ray didn't. He tried to outstrong the guy. Duran was being Duran, and Ray was going with him."