Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has recalled the controversy surrounding the Sugar Ray Leonard v Marvin Hagler fight as the boxing world celebrates the 30 year anniversary this week.
“The pair of legends clashed for the WBC middleweight title on April 6, 1987 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in what has since turned out to be one of the most-talked-about battles of a generation.
“I thought it was a great fight. I thought Ray did a tremendous job, better than anybody expected him to do,” said Arum.
“I had it 115-113 for Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The same score that Lou Felippo – one of the judges had it for Hagler. The other judge from Las Vegas, David Moretti, had it 115-113 for Leonard. Jose Sulaiman’s appointed judge, Jo Jo Guerrero had it ten rounds to two for Leonard.”
Asked whether he though Leonard stole the rounds by working towards the latter end of the session, Arum replied: “Absolutely, but that was not a unique tactic for Sugar Ray and it was modelled after Muhammad Ali.
“Very often, in close rounds, particularly in the Norton fight, he would flurry at the end so that the impression he left in the judges’ minds was that he won the round. Obviously rounds should be scored for the full three minutes but there is no questions that human beings being human will give more credit for the last part of a round – not that that’s correct, but that’s how it works.
“The rules say that each round is scored separately and at the end of the fight the fighter that has the most rounds wins that judge’s scorecard. The idea that a challenger has to do more than a champion to win a round or the fight is something that isn’t part of the rules – it’s a myth. You score the fight individually by rounds, period, anyone that says the challenger has to take away the title from the champion by doing appreciably more than the champion – that’s nonsense and contrary to the rules.
“That’s the perception because people, journalists talk about this and it is fake opinion. It’s not in accordance with the rules. They love to write about it ‘well, the challenger didn’t do enough to win the title’ well he doesn’t have to do more to win, other than to win the majority of the rounds – that’s what the rules say.
“Close fights always generate controversy. The Kovalev-Ward fight – people swear that Kovalev won the fight and other people say Andre won the fight. That’s part of what makes boxing really interesting are the very close fights.
“The second De La Hoya-Mosley fight – I thought Oscar won that fight easily and Mosley got the decision and that was a lot of controversy. The first fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield – Lewis won that fight easily – they called it a draw. You know, that’s the nature of the thing – when you have three judges that view a fight subjectively,” added Arum.