Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Hector Camacho
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Ray Leonard 159 lbs lost to Hector Camacho 159 lbs by TKO at 1:08 in round 5 of 12
- Date: 1997-03-01
- Location: Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
- Referee: Joe Cortez
- Judge: Debra Barnes
- Judge: Michael Pernick
- Judge: Tim Figley
- Leonard's purse was $4 million, and Camacho's was $2 million.
- Leonard was 40-years-old and had not fought in six years. In his previous fight, he lost to WBC Super Welterweight Champion Terry Norris by a lopsided decision. He blamed the loss on a fractured rib, difficulty getting down to 154 pounds, and divorce proceedings.
- After announcing his return to the ring, Leonard appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
- Adrian Davis trained Leonard for the fight.
- Leonard was a 7 to 5 favorite.
- The fight was shown live on pay-per-view and rebroadcast on the USA Network on April 1, 1997.
- The Associated Press reported:
- With a crowd of 10,324 rooting him on, Leonard landed some nice punches in the first round but quickly looked like the old fighter he is and not the Hall of Fame fighter he used to be. Leonard bloodied Camacho's nose in the second round but Camacho returned the favor by ripping a cut over Leonard's left eye in the fourth. Then Camacho opened the fifth with a solid left to Leonard's head and, at about 50 seconds of the round, the left-handed Camacho landed a right and three left uppercuts that dropped Leonard, who had been knocked down twice in losing a one-sided decision to junior middleweight champion Terry Norris on Feb. 9, 1991. Leonard started to get up at the count of three, then fell back down, but struggled up to easily beat the 10-count. Camacho then leaped to the attack and landed a barrage of 10 punches to the head that made referee Joe Cortez move in to save Leonard from further punishment.
- Camacho was ahead on two scorecards and even on the third. The scores were 39-37, 39-37 and 38-38.
- From the start of the fight, Leonard had difficulty keeping his feet beneath him. He tripped once and almost stumbled to the canvas a second time. Afterward, he revealed that he had torn his right calf on January 31 while training in Chandler, Arizona. "I should have canceled the fight," said J.D. Brown, Leonard's adviser. "There were rumors that he was hospitalized and they were true." Leonard denied the rumors and said his son, Ray Jr., who was trying out for a local Arena Football League team, had been the Leonard in question. His doctor suggested that the fight be postponed, but Leonard refused. He didn't spar for two weeks. When he resumed sparring, he quickly re-injured his leg. His camp then closed his workouts to the press and public so nobody would see how hobbled he was. "It was something we camouflaged because we thought it was going to heal," said J.D. Brown. Leonard said his doctor injected him with a painkiller two hours before the fight. However, he was insistent that nobody take it as an excuse. "Do not write that this was the reason I lost," Leonard said.
- "For sure, my career is definitely over," Leonard said in the Convention Center ring after the fight. However, just a few days later, he changed his mind and said he would return with a series of tuneup fights before fighting a champion.
- Leonard was scheduled to fight Danny Phippen on June 1, 1997, but the bout was postponed until July 22 after Leonard said his calf needed more time to heal. After Phippen skipped out on a stipulated tuneup match, Leonard was set to face Dan Connolly on July 25, but he backed out because he said he didn't have enough time to train. Leonard then planned to meet Tony Menefee on February 15, 1998, in Sydney, Australia, but he pulled out of that fight as well. According to J.D. Brown, Leonard didn't have the motivation. The Camacho fight was Leonard's last fight.
- "Camacho sends Leonard back into retirement" Associated Press, March 2, 1997
- "Leonard camp defends choice to fight injured" Associated Press, March 3, 1997
- "Sugar Ray may fight again despite beating" Reuter, March 8, 1997
- "Sweet 'n Low" By Richard Hoffer, Sports Illustrated, March 10, 1997
- "Leonard postpones fight" Associated Press, May 1, 1997
- "Sugar Ray's opponent missing since Friday" Associated Press, May 20, 1997
- "Sugar Ray Exits Australian Bout" Associated Press, January 12, 1998
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