Sugar Ray Leonard met the press again Tuesday morning, praising Donny Lalonde’s effort in their unexpectedly dramatic bout at Caesars Palace Monday night, and also delivering back-handed slaps at Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Leonard’s ousted trainer, Angelo Dundee.
“Donny never lost faith in himself, while a lot of you (reporters) kept questioning his credentials,” Leonard said.
The result, a ninth-round knockout by Leonard, was achieved because Lalonde was forced to fight at a new level, Leonard said, with Lalonde seated next to him.
“Donny was much stronger than I anticipated, but my ring generalship and my speed compensated for a lot,” he said.
“I took Donny to another level of competition and intensity, and he wasn’t able to keep up. But Donny proved a lot of you wrong--he gave me a hell of a fight. He made the fight a success. If Donny maintains the type of intensity he showed last night, he will be a champion again.”
Leonard, in winning his fourth and fifth championships, lifted Lalonde’s World Boxing Council light-heavyweight championship, and became the first champion of the WBC’s new super-middleweight division.
Leonard knocked Hagler when he was asked to rank his victories.
“I’d say winning the gold medal in the Olympics, that would be first, followed by beating Wilfred Benitez, Donny Lalonde, Tommy Hearns, Bruce Finch--and Marvin Hagler,” he said.
Monday’s was Leonard’s first pro fight without Angelo Dundee in his corner. They parted after a dispute over money. Janks Morton, Leonard’s coach in his amateur days, was in his corner Monday night.
“Janks was extremely competent in the corner, and there wasn’t a lot of hysteria,” Leonard said.
That remark was apparently aimed at Dundee, who before the final round with Hagler on April 15, 1987, screamed “You’re the champion! You’re the champion!” into Leonard’s face.