Sugar Ray Leonard Stops Tony Chiaverini This Day June 24, 1979
- Sugar Ray Leonard 151 lbs
- Tony Chiaverini 153 lbs
- RTD in round 4 of 10
- Location: Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Ferd Hernandez
- Judge: Chuck Minker
- Judge: Duane Ford
- Judge: Lou Tabat
Sugar Ray Leonard 22-0 (13 KOs) vs. Tony Chiaverini 30-4 (21 KOs)
The WBC ranked Leonard third at welterweight and Chiaverini sixth at super welterweight.
Leonard made $140,000, and Chiaverini got $61,000.
The fight took place at the Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion.
Chiaverini requested an 18-foot ring, and the Leonard camp acquiesced.
The fight was televised nationally by ABC on Wide World of Sports.
ABC broadcaster Howard Cosell said Leonard was “a little upset” in his dressing room before the fight after learning that his former Olympic teammate, Leon Spinks (7-1-1), had been knocked out in the first round by Gerrie Coetzee (21-0).
This was the second knockout loss of Chiaverini’s professional career.
Undefeated Sugar Ray Leonard may have finally silenced the critics who questioned the former Olympic champion’s punching power.
Leonard, a 23-year-old boxer from Palmer Park, Md., scored a convincing victory Sunday with a technical knockout over Tony Chiaverini, who failed to answer the fifth-round bell.
Chiaverini, 153, a left-handed brawler with power in either hand, could not formulate a defense against the lightning-quick left jabs of Leonard. Leonard, 151, seemed to find the mark almost at will against the slower-moving Kansas City, Missouri, fighter.
Leonard, beginning the fourth-round in a flurry of punches, appeared in trouble after the opening minute — when Chiaverini maneuvered him into a neutral corner and began punching at Leonard’s body. Chiaverini’s strong arms prevented the younger boxer from freeing himself, although Leonard finally escaped from the corner and was unhurt.
The corner exchange angered Leonard, who swiveled his hips and mocked Chiaverini after the referee separated the fighters. Leonard systematically moved in to send jab after jab to Chiaverini’s face, first opening an inch-long gash below the right eye, and then nearly closing the eye by round’s end.
Critics had questioned Leonard’s punching ability, noting he had been forced to go 10 rounds in each of his last two bouts prior to the Chiaverini matchup.
Leonard, who has 14 knockouts, won a tough unanimous decision over Marcos Geraldo May 20 in Baton Rouge, La., and prior to that, was forced to go the distance in winning a decision from Adolfo Viruet of New York April 21.
“He‘s about as fast as I thought, but he hits a little harder,” said Chiaverini following the bout. “He also caught me with a good one in the throat.”
Chiaverini said his corner stopped the fight, rather than see the 26-year-old boxer get hurt.
Leonard, already signed to fight Wilfredo Benitez of Puerto Rico for the World Boxing Council welterweight crown Dec. 1 in the United States, said he planned to take July off and line up two bouts prior to his title shot.
Leonard and his handler Angelo Dundee refused to reveal who the charismatic boxer would meet next. Leonard said he eventually hoped to meet Roberto Duran, the former lightweight champion who gave up his crown to move up to the welterweight class.