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On this day: Roberto Duran scores epic triumph over Sugar Ray Leonard

Duran and Leonard in their thriller from June 1980. Photo by Focus on Sport/ Getty Images
20
Jun

For more than one reason, you can make a case that it was the greatest triumph in boxing history.

On June 20, 1980, Roberto Duran claimed the Ring and WBC welterweight titles by scoring a 15-round unanimous decision over Sugar Ray Leonard at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The official scores were 148-147, 146-144 and 145-144.

Why was this win so big?

The previously unbeaten Leonard was a 9-5 favorite and regarded by many as the finest fighter in the world.



Duran, the former undisputed lightweight champion, skipped the junior welterweight division and moved direct to 147 pounds in early 1978. He became the first fighter since Henry Armstrong to win lightweight and welterweight championships.

The naturally smaller Duran took the fight to Leonard and exhibited skill levels up close that have rarely if ever been bettered.

The fight was a never-to-be-forgotten classic and both men went to near-otherworldly lengths in pursuit of victory. The two-way action was so ferocious that all three judges has a hard time separating the fighters on the scorecards. Angelo Poletti, incredibly, scored 10 rounds even. Raymond Baldeyrou scored five even. Harry Gibbs scored four even.

Duran took his record to 72-1 with the greatest victory of his career. Leonard dropped to 27-1.

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