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44 years ago

Wilfred Benitez vs Ray Leonard

Wilfred Benitez vs Ray Leonard

Date: 30th November 1979

Venue: Caesars Palace, Sports Pavilion, Las Vegas

Title: WBC World Welterweight Title

Promoter: Top Rank


Wilfred Benitez
( 38 - 0 - 1 )
Weight: 144½ lbs

Ray Leonard
( 25 - 0 - 0 )
Weight: 146 lbs

On November 30, 1979, Sugar Ray Leonard faced Wilfred Benitez for the WBC World Welterweight Title at Caesars Palace, Sports Pavilion, Las Vegas. Benitez was the WBC champion and had a record of 38-0-1, while Leonard was the WBC No. 2-rated welterweight contender with a 25-0-0 record. The fight was televised live in prime time on ABC, and there was a capacity crowd of around 4,600 people on hand. Leonard was a 3 to 1 favourite, and both fighters earned the richest fight purse ever for non-heavyweight fighters at the time, with Benitez earning $1.2 million, and Leonard $1 million.

Leonard started strong, tagging Benitez with a sweet hook in the first round and a left jab in the third, causing Benitez to go down on the seat of his pants. However, Benitez adjusted to Leonard's style and became a different man in the fourth round, making it difficult for Leonard to hit him with overhand rights. Although both fighters displayed ringcraft and feinting, neither man dominated nor set up the other. Leonard landed harder blows, but Benitez was hard to put away, even though Leonard had him going more than once. Leonard was ahead on all three cards through 14 rounds, but Benitez made him miss a lot.

In the 15th and final round, Leonard caught Benitez with a left uppercut, causing him to stumble backwards into the ropes. Benitez then took a series of punches, prompting the referee to stop the fight at 2:54 and award the win to Leonard by TKO. Although the fight was odd, with much parrying, displays of ringcraft, and hard to judge, it was an exciting one, with both fighters swinging from all points of the compass in the final round.

Wilfred Benitez vs Ray Leonard on YouTube

Wilfred Benitez vs Ray Leonard

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