Let’s throwback to the time in 1982 when Sugar Ray Leonard retires.
The first fight we’re covering in season two is the Super Fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
I’ve been looking around for video of when Sugar Ray Leonard decided to retire in 1982, rather than step back into the ring with Hagler. He hosted a charity event in which to make his announcement, but kept everyone but Sports Illustrated in the dark. The way that Ray presented the situation, it looked like he was going to announce a fight with Hagler and a return to boxing.
Earlier, Leonard had surgery for a detached retina. Some felt it was foolish for him to continue fighting and he himself was very worried about possibly going blind.
I didn’t find actual video of the event, but I did find this 1983 documentary film titled, “Sports Champions: Sugar Ray Leonard” which shows some of his decision to retire. But the focus of the documentary is on a trip to England that Ray describes in his book, “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring” which was published in 2011.
The reason why I was looking for footage of the charity event is because it lit the fuse for the fight between the two. Hagler was in constant search for respect, admiration, and the money that would come from being in Sugar Ray’s shoes. He needed Ray for that big money fight. But Ray toyed with him. He would tease the fight when on the broadcast team on Hagler’s fights. But here, he out and out denied Marvin on a big stage in what many believed was a disrespectful manner.
Ray closes out this charity event, which you can see both at the beginning and end of this short documentary, by saying that a fight with Hagler would be one of the great fights in the history of boxing. But then he’d go onto say that it would never happen with Marvin right there in attendance.
This moment is so key in the fight actually happening five years later. Some think Sugar Ray started to work Hagler right then and there by actually saying it wouldn’t happen. But he also did so by showing who the bigger star was once again to Marvin.