You’re being watched.
Every move you make, every single calibrated step, is being carefully dissected by a mind of rare ingenuity. If this isn’t enough you’re also being recorded, and thrown into a memory vault with unlimited space.
There isn’t anything you’ve done that hasn’t been seen before. So before you’re next move- be careful. You’re next step might very well be your last.
That goes for you too… watcher.
When Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns met for fistic supremacy on September 16th of 1981, they only did so at the behest of the entire fistic loving world. Both of their early 20’s and at the absolute height of their power, so rare was this encounter, that we’ve not seen anything really remotely close to it again.
It was as magnificent as it was epic, and is universally regarded as the standard by which all other superfights are measured. No matter what these two did during the remainder of what became legendary careers, their pitched battle; for in essence the championship of each other, will live in boxing immortality.
I believe Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can challenge this fight. The stakes are just as high, what we learn about both of them may be just as revealing, and their combined wins and undefeated records actually eclipses that of their legendary predecessors.
But what kind of drama would they create fighting them? How would Floyd Mayweather fair in a game of espionage with Sugar Ray Leonard? What could Canelo Alvarez do to thwart impending strikes from Thomas Hearns?
I’m guessing “The Eurythmics” might say: “sweet dreams are made of these”
Canelo vs. Hearns
The fully restored Hearns edition of July ’83 appears at ringside for Canelo’s fight with Austin Trout this past spring, and isn’t all that impressed. His last ring memory involves a strategic stand-off with fellow all-time great Wilfred Benitez, where he gets a 15 round decision over the crafty defensive wizard. Instead of preparing to beat a tough Scottish fighter named Murray Sutherland, we’re gonna put the defending WBC super welterweight champion Hearns in the ring with today’s WBC/WBA super welterweight champ Alvarez.
Both champions weigh in at 152lbs, and Alvarez comes into the ring that night at around 168lbs (and let’s say 6lbs heavier than Hearns). The differences show up right away, as “The Hitman” presents himself as a poised, technically refined, extremely sharp punching and mobile version of Paul Williams.
Thomas Hearns is the perhaps the best fighter to ever come out of the city of Detroit. He is a “lion” of a fighter with a “piston-like” jab. He seems almost as if a cold-blooded and genetically engineered assassin, with enough bullets in his machine gun to outduel the shotgun and M16 Canelo brings to the ring.
This is a very good fight that Hearns controls from the outset, by putting Alvarez on the defensive under heavy fire. He would survive “The Motor-City Cobra” assault- and launch ones of his own. In fact, a Canelo right hand blast floors Hearns in the 7th, as a wounded Hearns makes it out of the round on shaky legs.
Hearns recovers while losing the 8th, then after a relatively even 9th round, Tommy’s complete skill set starts to show up as he sweeps the championship rounds. He hasn’t exactly dominated Alvarez, who has somewhat shocked him with his speed and sharp counter-punching ability, but he’s seen Alvarez not be able to handle a war of attrition when his stamina is put to the test.
And that is the difference in the fight.
Thomas Hearns uses his length, his reach, and his overall better brand of boxing ability and volume, to earn a difficult, [but comfortable], UD win.
Mayweather vs. Leonard
Sitting with the Showtime crew on May 4th during Floyd’s clinical masterpiece over Robert Guerrero, the upcoming June 1981 version of Sugar Ray Leonard offers guarded commentary of the phenom in front of him, while compiling calculated data.
Like Mayweather, Leonard is a narcissist, hell-bent on figuring out a way to gain a tactical and psychological edge over the master boxer. Mayweather is pulling away from the shots of the lumbering Guerrero, expertly tying him up, and using his athleticism and superb visual acuity to “see” Guerrero’s every move. He employs a singular strike offense with movement, and angles his way into shot delivery with laser-like speed.
Leonard saw everything he’s needed to see, plus he see’s a lot of his father in Floyd. He’s seen him before too- literally.
Floyd returns the favor by watching Leonard’s rather terse dual and subsequent 9th round KO of Ayub Kalule to capture the WBA super welterweight crown. Floyd has Leonard on a movie screen in a dark room, and has dispatched his father to spy on Leonard at ringside.
He will need every bit of information they can gather.
Leonard is far superior to the fall 1978 fighter Floyd Sr. remembers. He’s had a 2007 Patriots 16-0 season since then while stopping Wilfred Benitez and Davey Boy Green, and the Duran saga (including “No Mas”) before stopping Kalule.
Here’s what both of their notebooks might look like.
Sugar Ray Leonard is a glamourous and flamboyant, “movie star-like” fighter with impeccable skills. He just may be one of the top 5 fighters to have ever lived. The original “pretty boy” with the mega-watt smile and charm, is a complete dragon in the ring. He is ridiculously graceful, slick afoot, possesses blinding speed, has every punch combination known to man, is technically proficient, defensively sound, is a deadly precise striker, and has the best killer instinct in the sport. And oh- he’s got a great chin and spectacular conditioning.
He has no weaknesses.
This upcoming version of Mayweather would be difficult for the truly great Sugar Ray Leonard to solve. Floyd would set traps for Ray, and he’d fall into them on occasion, especially that nasty right hand of Floyd.
What a beautiful fight this would be to watch.
You would never see better footwork and technical skills on display, overall speed or ring generalship. It would be like Beethoven and Mozart competing against each other; an almost majestic affair for about 8 rounds. But one of them has a sense the other doesn’t have- and therein lies the difference.
Not only would Sugar Ray sense Floyd does not want to engage often, he senses his speed bothers him, as Floyd is accustomed to being faster and for his opponent to slow down. This one won’t- and he’ll throw even more violent strikes as the fight goes on. Once Ray hurt you- YOU’RE DONE.
A sudden, massive assault badly hurts Floyd in the 10th, as Sugar Ray Leonard turns an even fight into an emphatic knockout victory.