This Day in Boxing

Sugar Ray Leonard Stops Larry Bonds This Day March 28, 1981


Sugar Ray Leonard Stops Larry Bonds This Day March 28, 1981



  • Sugar Ray Leonard 145 lbs
  • Larry Bonds 144½ lbs
  • TKO at 2:22 in round 10 of 15
  • Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York, USA
  • Referee: Arthur Mercante
  • Judge: Carol Castellano 88-85
  • Judge: Harold Lederman 90-80
  • Judge: Vincent Rainone 90-80
  • WBC Welterweight Champinship (1st defense of 2nd reign by Leonard)




The credentials of Bonds, ranked sixth at welterweight by the World Boxing Council, were questioned by some. “We wanted to fight Clint Jackson, which would be a better fight, but he isn’t ranked,” said Mike Trainer, Leonard’s attorney. “And the WBC says a champion has to fight every four months against a rated fighter.”

The WBC’s top five welterweight contenders were Wilfred Benitez, Pipino Cuevas, Alfredo Lucero, Randy Shields and Joergen Hansen. Benitez, Lucero and Shields turned down offers. Hansen, at age 38, was considered too old to be credible, and Trainer was saving Cuevas as a fall alternative. Finally, a call was made to Bobby Lewis, one of Bonds’ co-managers.

Bonds said, “My manager called me March 2. I was at home shooting eight-ball pool with my wife, Gloria. I didn’t get too excited . . . although I did lose the game to her.”

Leonard’s purse was $750,000, and Bonds got $100,000. Prior to fighting Leonard, Bonds’ biggest purse was $1,500.

When Leonard fought Bonds, he was already signed to challenge WBA Junior Middleweight Champion Ayub Kalule on June 25, 1981. Since both Bonds and Kalule were southpaws, the Bonds fight was viewed as a tune-up for Leonard.

Leonard had fought southpaws only twice as a professional: In 1979, he outpointed Adolfo Viruet over ten rounds and stopped Tony Chiaverini in four rounds.

The fight was promoted by the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets were priced from $60 for ringside seats down to $10.

The fight was televised live on HBO.

More than 21,000 fans attended the fight.

Leonard was the aggressor against the slick boxing southpaw. “I saw early there wasn’t any use dancing with him,” Leonard said after the bout. “Then we’d both be dancing and nobody would be punching much. To stop him I had to be a bully.”

Leonard floored Bonds once in round four and once in round ten.




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