Boxing: Donny Lalonde
October, 8, 2013
By Chris Lees | ESPN Stats & Information
The Ring Magazine/Getty ImagesSugar Ray Leonard tarnished "The Golden Boy" Donny Lalonde and took two titles in one night.Leading up to Juan Manuel Marquez's bid to win a world title in a fifth different weight class on Saturday, ESPN.com will look back at the elite group of fighters who have already achieved the feat -- we'll roll out a new one each day this week -- in our "Five In Five" series.
Three days after Thomas Hearns made boxing history by winning a world title in his fifth different weight class, the man who ended his reign as welterweight champion attempted to join him in that very class.
During his career to that point, Sugar Ray Leonard had won titles at 147, 154 and 160 pounds, winning each in dramatic fashion. Nov. 7, 1988 would be no different. There was one change for Leonard, however: This would mark his first fight without longtime trainer Angelo Dundee in his corner, after the two had parted ways because of a money dispute.
His opponent, Canadian-born Donny Lalonde, was unknown to most casual fans. He was tall, lean and could punch (26 of 31 wins by KO). He was also nicknamed "The Golden Boy" -- not because he had won Olympic gold like Oscar De La Hoya, but because he had dyed his hair blonde. Lalonde had won the WBC vacant light heavyweight title the previous November with a second-round stoppage of Eddie Davis.
The WBC not only sanctioned this fight for Lalonde's light heavyweight title, it also put its newly created super middleweight belt on the line. That meant Leonard would get the chance to win two world titles in as many weight classes in just one fight. It also meant Lalonde had to fight at a contracted weight of 167 pounds, eight pounds under the light heavyweight limit. Leonard weighed in at 165, which Lalonde addressed right away, calling Leonard "a fat, old welterweight."
Midway through the fourth round, Lalonde connected with a right to the top of Leonard's head, which sent him to the canvas for only the second time in his career. Leonard took the mandatory eight count and survived the round. According to the scorecard of Harold Lederman, HBO's unofficial judge, Lalonde had won the first four rounds, including 10-8 in the fourth.
Leonard and Lalonde continued to trade punches as the fight wore on, but it was Leonard who began landing the more efficient blows.
Leonard would finally catch Lalonde in the ninth with a brutal assault of unanswered punches. A Leonard left hook dropped Lalonde with 60 seconds left in the round. Lalonde courageously made it to his feet, but he was sent back to the canvas for good just seconds later.
Lalonde was the busier fighter, according to Compubox punch stats, but he landed just 122 of his 508 punches (24 percent). Leonard, by contrast, landed an impressive 54 percent of his blows (205 out of 382). How good was his performance in this back-and-forth battle? Last month, Floyd Mayweather Jr. landed 46 percent of his punches against Canelo Alvarez in a fight he thoroughly dominated.
Leonard never defended the light heavyweight title. He kept the 168-pound title and put it up against that other five-division champion, Hearns, when they made a rematch the following June. They battled to a draw, a fight many believe Hearns won.