Sugar Ray Leonard Talks ESPN Fight Card TONIGHT

Highly ranked Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (30-1, 18 Kos) of France faces New York’s Curtis Stevens (27-4, 20 Kos) in an IBF middleweight elimination bout tonight, Wednesday Oct. 1, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Ca. The fight card will be televised by ESPN2.

Hall of Fame member Sugar Ray Leonard volunteered to help King Sports Worldwide with the event. In the past, Leonard had his own promotion company and shut it down for various reasons. He believes the new promotion company is headed in the right direction.

Leonard believes that getting boxing back on free television and improving the U.S. Olympic boxing team are both necessary to bring the sport back to 1980s levels.

“If boxing can get back on free network television, and it can, it has to get back on free network to showcase boxing,” said Leonard, a four division world champion and a former Olympic gold medalist in 1976. “Boxing is such an incredible sport. It’s been taking more than black eyes, but knockouts because of the lack of a strong amateur program.”

Strong fight cards without mismatches is another requirement to maintain fan interest nationwide. Leonard, who promoted in the late 1990s and early part of the 2000s including cards in Temecula, feels that King Sports has the right methodology.

“King’s last show in April was amazing. All the fights were good. You don’t really hear that often,” Leonard said. “You didn’t know who was going to win. Back in the day, that’s how fights were. You didn’t know who would end up the winner.”

Leonard was part of those sizzling fight matches that saw him battle against the likes of Wilfredo Benitez, Armando Muniz and Floyd Mayweather Sr. on regular television. He scrapped against Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler on paid television but the world saw the best fight the best.

“That’s why Floyd Mayweather Jr. has to fight Manny Pacquiao,” he said.

Leonard likes the ESPN fight card because each fight features boxers evenly matched.

The main event between middleweights N’Dam and Stevens might fit that bill. But there are several others, including the light heavyweight clash between Russia’s Max Vlasov (30-1, 15 Kos) and undefeated southpaw Isiah Thomas (13-0, 6 Kos) that could be a thriller.

“We have assembled a group of fights that ensures an exciting, first-class night of boxing,” said Michael King, president, King Sports Worldwide. “Our fights not only have title implications, but feature evenly matched fighters with unbelievable records. These fighters are going to have to dig in to win and they are putting their impeccable records on the line to thrill not only Southern California boxing fans, but a national television audience hungry for competitive boxing.”

Leonard, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997, was the centerpiece of numerous televised fights. He just wants his sport to succeed.

“I love the sport. When I saw King’s first event I said to Michael (King) you have something here. This is my sport. This paid my father’s hospital bill, put my kids through college. I love boxing a lot. This is my honor to help you,” Leonard said.

Leonard hopes this marks the beginning of boxing headed toward competitive fight cards where each bout cannot be predicted. That’s his dream.

“That’s why I’m working with King Sports. His passion for my sports speaks volumes,” said Leonard.

Fight Chatter

Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 Kos) faces Willie Nelson (23-1-1, 13 Kos) in a junior middleweight clash at the Foxwoods Casino on Saturday Oct. 4. The match features two of the top contenders in the division and will be televised on Showtime. Martirosyan fights for Goossen Promotions.

Fights on television

Wed. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (30-1) vs. Curtis Stevens (27-4).

Fri. Spike TV, 9 p.m. Daniel Straus (22-5) vs. Justin Wilcox (14-6).

Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Daniel Lozano (12-1) vs. Jonathan Vidal (18-2).

Sat. Showtime, 6 p.m., Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1) vs. Willie Nelson (23-1-1).

Sat. beIn, 8 p.m., Adrian Estrella (18-0) vs. Celestino Caballero (37-5).

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

COMMENTS

-brownsugar :

Leonard is probably the best fighter I've ever seen( I'm sure better ones will come or may already be here).. It will be a pleasure to watch the show just to hear him commentate. It was Leonard who inspired me to find out that the age of 25 is too late to begin boxing ( and be very good at it)


-The Commish :

Sugar Ray influenced so many of you young guys--and many of us older ones, as well. I was fortunate to have been the Associate Editor and later the Editor-in-Chief of The Ring whenSRL was in his prime. Next week's "Commissioner's Corner" will be a dream match, in which one of the fighters will be SRL. -Randy G.


-brownsugar :

Sugar Ray influenced so many of you young guys--and many of us older ones, as well. I was fortunate to have been the Associate Editor and later the Editor-in-Chief of The Ring whenSRL was in his prime. Next week's "Commissioner's Corner" will be a dream match, in which one of the fighters will be SRL. -Randy G.
Sounds like great times Commish, SRL really knew how to appeal to the boxing and non-boxing audience. He could have shown the "bad guys" of boxing today how to double their profit and appeal through positive "Public Relations",.... But a lot of boxers thought Leonard was a " Suck-up" and a "square". He wasn't a suck-up, .... he was just very accessible. And still is to this very day.


-The Commish :

Sounds like great times Commish, SRL really knew how to appeal to the boxing and non-boxing audience. He could have shown the "bad guys" of boxing today how to double their profit and appeal through positive "Public Relations",.... But a lot of boxers thought Leonard was a " Suck-up" and a "square". He wasn't a suck-up, .... he was just very accessible. And still is to this very day.
Many boxinginsiders originally thought SRL was more than a "suck-up." They looked at him as a media darling whose boyish smile got him very far with TV execs and advertisers. It was figured that, once he got smacked by a banger such as Thomas Hearns, that sweetheart aura would crumble. It took the match against Hearns on September 16, 1981, to prove the doubters wrong. From that moment on, Sugar Ray Leonard became a legend-in-progress. Watch the youtube video of SRL-Hearns I when you have a chance. It's a classic. It'll show you just how great the Sugarman really was. -Randy G.


-Radam G :

I have nuthin' but mad luv for me some Sugar Ray Leonard. He is legit in and out of the boksing world. Such an honest and honorable guy. And that is something that you have to dig all the time. I just hate that the Sugarman never did it up on the Big Screen. BUT! Hopefully he will be getting with it soon. I hope that he gets a really BIG part in the next "Rocky" movie. In the next one, old former boxing Rocky is going to be training the late, great Apollo Creed's son. Holla!


-brownsugar :

I saw it live Commish, I was consulted by the host (a personal friend of mine who bought the show and provided the drinks food and venue... ....who to bet on)...I thought Hearns would knock that perpetual smile of Leonard's face and show the world that a welterweight pansy like him didn't deserve to hold the belt.... I thought I was the nostrodamus of boxing in those days and convinced my friend to put $150.00 on Hearn's. He never blamed me for losing his dough. To this very day he says it was a conspiracy by the secret powers that be to waive the fight off early. To this day any discussion about the fight will touch off a 2 hour debate why he thought Hearns was cheated and why Leonard was given a gift. Its clear that Hearns was done but my buddie still holds to the belief that a shady backroom deal cost Hearns his undefeated record. That fight was high drama at its best...and Leonard earned my complete and total respect afterwards..... What tenacity...what resilience.....what a single minded assassin Leonard was..... with a killer instinct that was relentless as it gets


-Brad :

I think the Brawl in Montreal, even more so than the first Hearns fight, showed how tough Sugar Ray was and that he was not a media creation. As the late great Pete Axthelm wrote after the first Leonard Duran fight," Duran's attack often called to mind a Viet Cong offensive: he attacked from all angles, measuring off the ring territory as if it were his home turf and was almost fanatically eager to pay whatever price was necessary to win. Duran transformed the fight into a brutal test. Leonard rose to the occasion in a style that left him rightfully unbowed in defeat." ....Pete was a good writer.


-Froggy :

I think the Brawl in Montreal, even more so than the first Hearns fight, showed how tough Sugar Ray was and that he was not a media creation. As the late great Pete Axthelm wrote after the first Leonard Duran fight," Duran's attack often called to mind a Viet Cong offensive: he attacked from all angles, measuring off the ring territory as if it were his home turf and was almost fanatically eager to pay whatever price was necessary to win. Duran transformed the fight into a brutal test. Leonard rose to the occasion in a style that left him rightfully unbowed in defeat." ....Pete was a good writer.
You hit the nail on the head Brad ! I always thought that was one of Leonards greatest fights to fight Duran when Duran was motivated, in his prime and in shape, plus fight Durans fight and go the distance was one Leonards greatest accomplishments !


-teaser :

yes ?having to endure the hell that was Duran that nite in Montreal gave Leonard the mettle to defeat Hearns ?yes it was a difficult fight but not like fighting a wolverine in a phone booth ?Leonard knew he could hurt Tommy ?something he couldn't do against Duran in 3 fights ?Ray Leonard fought the best and beat them all ?we need more of that