On this day: Sugar Ray Leonard becomes undisputed welterweight champion at the expense of Thomas Hearns
Both young, both at the peak of their powers and both obsessed with becoming the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. On Sept. 16, 1981, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Sugar Ray Leonard, the WBC titleholder, faced off against WBA counterpart Thomas Hearns for all the marbles at 147 pounds. Leonard, who held victories over Wilfredo Benitez and Roberto Duran, was the more experienced fighter, but the unbeaten Hearns had established himself as the premier knockout artist in world boxing. The stage was set for “The Showdown” and it was Leonard who would reign supreme, courtesy of a 14th-round TKO. The ebb and flow and the dramatic conclusion make this arguably the greatest welterweight title fight of all time. Leonard-Hearns was The Ring Fight of the Year for 1981 and Leonard would also share honors with Salvador Sanchez as Fighter of the Year.