On November 7, 1988, Leonard made another comeback, facing Don Lalonde at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. They fought for Lalonde’s WBC Light Heavyweight Championship and the newly created WBC Super Middleweight Championship….which meant that Lalonde had to make 168 lbs. Many were critical of Leonard for stipulating that his opponent, natural 175 pounder, should weigh less than his usual fighting weight….which could possibly weaken him….however, Lalonde later told HBO’s Larry Merchant that he didn’t have any trouble making weight.
Lalonde, 31–2 with 26 knockouts, was guaranteed at least $6 million and Leonard was guaranteed over $10 million.
This would be Leonard’s first professional fight without Angelo Dundee….cuz for Leonard’s fight with Hagler….Dundee worked without a contract and received $175,000….which was less than 2% of Leonard’s purse….as Dundee was unhappy with that amount….and requested a contract for the Lalonde fight….and Leonard refused saying “I don’t have contracts. My word is my bond”….so, Janks Morton and Dave Jacobs trained Leonard for the Lalonde fight.
Lalonde’s size and awkwardness troubled Leonard….when in the 4th round, a right hand to the top of Leonard’s head dropped him for just the second time in his career….then early in the 9th, Lalonde hurt Leonard with a right to the chin…..but Leonard fired back and hurt Lalonde with a right….then he drove him to the ropes and unleashed a furious assault….as Lalonde tried to tie up Leonard….but got dropped with a powerful left hook….to which he rose….but was soon down again….and the fight was stopped. Judges Chuck Giampa and Franz Marti had Leonard ahead by scores of 77–74 and 77–75, respectively. Judge Stuart Kirshenbaum had Lalonde ahead 76–75.
After the fight, Leonard vacated the light heavyweight title….but kept the super middleweight title. Also, Leonard and Janks Morton split because of personal differences. Morton was replaced as co-trainer by Pepe Correa, who had worked with Leonard for most of the previous fifteen years.
In this in-studio session with his HBO boxing crew co-host Larry Merchant….the two cover all things “Sugar Ray”….from the 1st Thomas Hearns fight to winning the light heavyweight title that Donny Lalonde held….to the potential upcoming 2nd fight with Thomas Hearns….Merchant and Leonard provide some interesting insight into the mental framework of one of boxing’s legends from The Golden Age of Boxing from 1964 to 1995….and we are delighted to have this video clip in our treasure chest of vintage memories here at ImaSportsphile.