A Fight Worth Every Nickel

BoxingXL CenterSugar Ray LeonardThomas Hearns

How's this for a fight card at the Hartford Civic Center?

On June 10, 1977, Sugar Ray Leonard beat Vinnie DeBarros of Waterbury when the ref stopped the lightweight fight at 1:59 of the third round. One of the 6,127 in the crowd was the legendary Willie Pep, seated ringside.

On the same card, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, a middleweight from Brockton, Mass., had a third-round knockout of Roy Jones. Courant columnist Owen Canfield described the night this way: "The Hartford crowd which came to this boxing show, even the ones who paid $15, didn't waste a nickel."

Fifteen bucks? Days gone by.

The victory was just Leonard's third as a pro; he had won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics. He would go on to famous fights against the likes of Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns, winning and retaining welterweight titles many times.

"Yes, he's the fastest guy I ever fought," DeBarros told reporters after the fight. "He's very scientific."

Pep's take on Leonard: "He's good, but it's too early to tell."

Hagler came into the fight with a 37-2-1 record, had more than 20 family members in the audience and came away with the North American middleweight title. He would go on to win the middleweight title and eventually face Leonard. In 1987, Sugar Ray beat Hagler in 12 rounds in Las Vegas for the WBC middleweight title.

Today, boxing cards are at the Connecticut Convention Center or the casinos, and one wonders - just where have the Leonards and Haglers gone?

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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