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35 years ago

Donny Lalonde vs Ray Leonard

Donny Lalonde vs Ray Leonard

Date: 7th November 1988

Venue: Caesars Palace, Outdoor Arena, Las Vegas

Title: WBC Light Heavyweight & WBC Super Middleweight Titles

Promoter: Victory Promotions


Donny Lalonde
( 31 - 2 - 0 )
Weight: 167 lbs

Ray Leonard
( 34 - 1 - 0 )
Weight: 165 lbs

On Monday 7th November 1988, boxing fans from around the world gathered at the outdoor arena of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada to witness the WBC Light Heavyweight and WBC Super Middleweight Title fight between Donny Lalonde and Ray Leonard. This was Leonard's third return from retirement and his first fight since defeating Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1987 to win the WBC Middleweight Championship. Lalonde, on the other hand, had a record of 31-2-0 going into the fight and this was his first fight at super middleweight since November 1986.

The fight was promoted by Victory Promotions, owned by Mike Trainer, who was also Leonard's attorney. Trainer had announced that Leonard would earn at least $15 million, while Lalonde would earn about $5 million. This was the largest purse ever for a light heavyweight title fight, with the previous largest being $1.2 million, which was paid to Michael Spinks and Dwight Muhammad Qawi when they fought to unify the World Light Heavyweight Championship in 1983.

Titan Entertainment reportedly paid $9.5 million to be the closed-circuit and pay-per-view distributor. Tickets were priced between $200 and $1,000, and the fight was held in a 15,388-seat outdoor stadium. Caesars Palace reportedly paid a site fee of $7.5 million and announced a crowd of 13,246 and a gate of $7.5 million, although the Nevada State Athletic Commission claimed a paid crowd of 5,590 and a gate of $2,789,800.

The fight was Lalonde's chance to defend his WBC Light Heavyweight Crown and also to win Leonard's WBC Super Middleweight Championship title. Leonard was a 3½ to 1 favorite, and the fight was his first professional fight without trainer Angelo Dundee in his corner. They had parted ways due to a dispute over money.

The end came in the ninth round when Leonard faced a furious assault from Lalonde, who threw 31 straight punches, although most lacked power or precision. When Lalonde paused, Leonard attacked, launching three hooks to Lalonde's head and a hard jab to his nose. A right snapped Lalonde's head back, driving him into his own corner, where he took a savage battering. Leonard slammed fist after fist against Lalonde's head before dropping him with a hard left hook.

Lalonde struggled to his feet, but he was clearly out of his depth. When the referee waved Leonard forward, Lalonde tried to clinch, but his strength was gone, and he backed away against the ropes. Leonard set himself and fired a right from the floor that narrowly missed Lalonde. Then, tapping Lalonde's chest gently, almost contemptuously, with a measuring left hand, Leonard cracked him with another right and sent Lalonde to the floor with a hook. The fight was over.

Leonard landed 205 of 382 punches (54 percent), and Lalonde connected on 122 of 508 (24 percent). Leonard became the second fighter in history to win world championships in five weight divisions. The fight was rebroadcast several times by HBO, starting on November 12, 1988.

Donny Lalonde vs Ray Leonard on YouTube

Donny Lalonde vs Ray Leonard

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