On this day: Sugar Ray Leonard scores chilling knockout of Dave Green
Homecoming triumphs are rarely more decisive than this one.
On March 31, 1980, Sugar Ray Leonard scored the most brutal knockout of his Hall of Fame career, when he blasted British challenger Dave “Boy” Green to the canvas with a ferocious left hook in the fourth round of their Ring and WBC welterweight title fight at the Capitol Center in Landover, Maryland. The official time was 2:27.
Leonard, fresh of his title winning effort over fellow-great Wilfred Benitez, was defending for the first time in an arena that was walking distance from where he grew up in Palmer Park. Against Benitez, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist had made believers out of those who doubted his skills, but against Green it was his punching power that made the headlines.
Green (33-2) was a former British and European champion at 140 pounds. His high intensity style and aggressiveness were evident in solid wins over former welterweight champ John H. Stracey (TKO 10), Andy Price (10-round decision) and Dick Eklund (10-round decision). However, in a previous shot at the WBC welterweight, Green came unstuck in a gallant losing effort to Carlos Palomino (KO 10), who knocked him out with a perfect left hook.
History would repeat itself in the worst way.
The unbeaten Leonard was sizzling from the opening bell. Before the first three minutes were over, a raucous home crowd was treated to the rapier left jab, blinding handspeed, bone-crushing power shots and an Ali shuffle. Green, who was rated No. 8 by The Ring coming in, was completely out of his depth and struggled to land anything of consequence.
In Round 4, Leonard began to put more spite into his punches. Green stood up to some tremendous single shots but the champion was merely playing with his food. Switching into kill mode, Leonard scored with a quick right uppercut-left hook combination that froze the affable Englishman at ring center. Dazed but still erect, Green was now wide open for disaster. Leonard’s right pierced a hole through the challenger’s defenses and the follow up left hook, delivered with a full rotation of the hips, knocked Green out cold upon impact. The stricken warrior fell straight back and his head bounced off the canvas.
There were anxious moments around ringside, and Leonard appeared visibly shaken the moment he saw Green’s predicament. Thankfully, the challenger recovered, although it took several days before he shook off the effects of what was a devastating knockout blow.
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