Exclusive Q&A: Leonard says he, Hearns would KO Mayweather, Pacquiao
RingTV.com: Do you think that we will ever see that kind of test out of either Mayweather or Pacquiao in your opinion?
SRL: I think that the only way that we’re going to see this is if these two guys fight and one of them gets cut or one of them gets knocked down. You will see what these two guys are truly made of internally. It takes two to tango. It takes two of these guys of that particular caliber to bring out that which you’re asking me about.
Why don’t we see that? Because it’s not been required or necessary for them to do that so far. Tommy Hearns brought out the best in me, and I brought out the best in him. Did I want to quit? No. But it was close. It’s one of those things where I was like, “I dont’ need this s–t.”
But the part of me that’s the fighter was like, “hey, you’ve got to kill me, baby.” My fight with Hearns, you know, fatigue doesn’t really justify what I felt. I just wanted to win, and it takes fighters of those calibers to bring out that guy in you.
Like when Muhammad Ali says Joe Frazier brought him the closest to death that he’s ever been? It took a Joe Frazier to make Ali reach down. I go back and I watch that fight every now and then, and I see what those guys have been through, and I’ve been through that.
RingTV.com: What separates a true champion from an also-ran?
SRL: You have to exhibit the type of mentality where people say that you’re going into the ring, and they think that you’re crazy, or you just have that confident. It’s either you’re crazy, or you’re crazy-confident.
It’s one of those factors that gets you in there. Crazy, like we thought with Evander Holyfield going in against Mike Tyson. I thought Holyfield was crazy. People thought I was crazy going in against Hagler.
Or, it’s something where you just have the balls and the tenacity and the intestinal fortitude that you know is going to be present when you step into the ring. That’s what makes a true fighter and a true champion.
RingTV.com: If you had Mayweather and Pacquiao alone together, is there anything that you think that you could you say in order to get them to face each other?
SRL: This fight here is justice for both. Because when I hear guys say that they’re the best, pound-for-pound, you know, they really shouldn’t be saying that. Does Mayweather do great numbers? Yeah. He can voice that. That’s cool.
Does Pacquiao do great numbers? Yeah, he can say that, and that’s cool. But I think that if I could say anything to both guys, I would say, “you know, your careers are nearly over. This could be one of those great, defining moments that you both need.”
They really need this. This is history. This forever. This fight here is forever. When they fought Mosley, they could say that he’s old. That’s not the defining moment yet. It’s just not. Neither of them in my opinion has had that career defining moment.
Photos by Chris Cozzone, Fightwireimages.com
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwireimages.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]