Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard will appear at Pala Casino on Saturday, June 25 to sign autographs at a fight card that takes place that day. Leonard’s autobiography “The Big Fight: My Life in and out of the Ring” was recently released and is available at book stores now.
I spoke to Leonard by phone on Monday morning and as usual the classy former champion had very interesting things to say. Among the topics we discussed were subjects in his book, the 80s and life today.
“It took almost two years to write. It was a kind of an emotional tough journey process. But now that I’m finished and got it out it, it was a very therapeutic and cathartic endeavor if you will,” said Leonard about his autobiography.
The Hall of Fame champion was very honest about his failings and experiences.
“I think the sexual abuse. My actions and behavior as a husband with the first wife, my whole way of thinking as a father, it’s all those things that we take for granted,” said Leonard about his experiences as boxing royalty in his 20s. “You sit back as a grandfather and it bothered me who I was back then.”
“You come from rags to riches, have fame all over the world. There is no book or manual to tell you how to behave with this whole other world. You come from fighting guys on the street to meeting presidents.”
Among those presidents he met were Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Barack Obama. “I played golf with President Bill Clinton,” he told me.
Leonard says he golfs but is not on the same level as other athletes of note.
“My game is not up to par with Oscar’s (De La Hoya) game. He’s a few strokes better than me,” admits Leonard. “I love it. I still work on my game like I did with boxing.”
Most people fail to realize that Leonard made more than $100 million in his career but only had a total of 40 pro fights. That’s a very low number.
“If you really look at my career I didn’t have that many fights. I had defining moments in the ring. I had fights that were major fights from Marvin Hagler, (Roberto) Duran, (Tommy) Hearns, (Wilfred) Benitiz. They were moments in history.
“Most of my guys, they had 80 fights. They had a ton of fights. But because of my injury to the eye, me not wanting to be a fighter any more, I spent a few years away from the sport,” explained Leonard about the detached retina he suffered in the ring.
“Hell I didn’t know what a detached retina was when the doctor told me. They corrected it. I’ve been very lucky and blessed to be in a time to have the finances to pay for the best opthamologist in the world.”
Leonard, who won world titles in the welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, said that he maintains a special kinship with all of his former foes despite the fierce battles they endured against each other.
“We talk trash and every now and then we mean it in the ring. Once it’s all over and the years have passed, we’ll embrace or just look at each others talent. You can’t deny that each other had talent,” said Leonard.
Recently, Leonard visited an old foe and he worries about that fighter’s condition.
“The last time I saw Wilfred (Benitez) I was in Puerto Rico and I was promoting boxing. I picked up his mom to ride down with me to see him. It was shocking to see him in that condition,” said Leonard of Puerto Rican great Benitez who is in poor health. “Outside of the ring we still support each other. That’s what’s so beautiful about our sport in particular.”
Leonard lives in Los Angeles and recently was an advisor for a coming motion picture.
“I was a boxing consultant for Hugh Jackman’s new movie “Real Steel” that comes out in October. Working behind the scenes in these movies is great. It was the same with “The Fighter.” I had a great time.”
There is much more, many compelling anecdotes, in Leonard’s autobiography that has just burst on the shelves of bookstores.
If you’d like to meet Leonard in person he’ll be at Pala Casino on Saturday signing autographs and posing for photos. The main event of the fight card is Dashon Johnson (12-4-3) against Bernardo Guereca (16-10-1) in a welterweight 10-rounder. For more information (877) 946-7252.
Other fight chatter
Former WBC junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (21-1, 13 KOs) fights Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (28-1, 26 KOs) on Saturday, June 25 in St. Charles, Missouri. Matthysse lost a close decision to Zab Judah in a world title fight though he knocked down the new IBF junior welterweight titleholder. “I’m going to make sure that there is no doubt I will be the winner this time,” said Matthysse, who trains in Oxnard with Sergio Martinez.
WBO junior featherweight titleholder Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton (8-2-1) is testing the waters of a new weight division against Angel Gladney (6-3-1) on Friday, June 24 in Miami, Florida. Julaton and Gladney agreed to fight in the featherweight division. Julaton’s last fight was a win over Franchesca Alcanter.
Chevelle “Fists of Steel” Hallback just opened her own gym in Tampa, Florida and will have the grand opening of Fists of Steel Boxing Academy on Tuesday, July 5. “I am very excited to have my own gym,” said Hallback, a former world champion. “It's a dream come true to have the chance to prepare brand new fighters for the future, as well as encourage kids of all ages to get more involved with fitness.” For more information (813) 270-4375.
France’s Anne Sophie Mathis (23-1, 20 KOs) defends her WBF and WIBA welterweight titles against undefeated fellow Frenchwoman Olivia Boudouma (8-0) today in France. Boudouma fights out of Switzerland.
Prospects Ramon Valadez, Jamie Kavanagh and Ernesto Ocon lead a Golden Boy Promotions fight card today at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.
Canada’s Jelena Mrdjenovich (24-7) is trying to snap a two fight losing streak and win the vacant WIBA featherweight world title against Irma Adler (12-1) on Friday, June 24. The world title fight takes place in Alberta, Canada. On the same card Brandy Badry fights Monique Duval.
Undefeated heavyweight David Rodriguez (34-0, 32 KOs) of Texas fights Owen “What the Heck” Beck (29-7, 20 KOs) on Friday, June 24 in El Paso. A regional WBC title will be at stake in the heavyweight contest.
WBA middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm (35-2-1, 15 KOs) of Germany defends his title against United Kingdom’s Matthew Macklin (28-2, 19 KOs) on Saturday, June 25 in Cologne, Germany.
Former world champion Fernando Montiel returns to the ring for the first time since losing by brutal knockout to Nonito Donaire. Montiel (44-3-2, 34 KOs) fights Nehomar Cermeno (20-3, 12 KOs) on Saturday, June 25, in Culiacan, Mexico.
WBC lightweight world titleholder Humberto Soto (55-7-2, 32 KOs) defends against Motoki Sasaki (36-8-1, 23 KOs) on Saturday in Cozumel, Mexico. Soto last fought in March in a non-title fight he won over Fidel Munoz in Nayarit, Mexico.
IBF light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud (22-0, 18 KOs) defends against Yusaf Mack (29-3-2, 17 KOs) and IBF junior middleweight titleholder Cornelius Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs) defends against Sechew Powell (26-2, 15 KOs) on Saturday in Missouri.
WIBF junior bantamweight world titleholder Nadia Hokmi (18-6-1) beat Julia Sahin (20-3) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds last Saturday in France. It was Hokmi’s first title defense.
Mexico’s popular Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) successfully won his first world title defense of the WBC junior middleweight belt with a 12th round knockout of United Kingdom’s Ryan Rhodes (45-5, 31 KOs) on Saturday. On the same card undefeated Adrian Broner (21-0, 17 KOs) knocked out Jason Litzau (28-3, 21 KOs) in the first round.
World champions Giovanni Segura (28-1-1, 24 KOs) and Miguel Vazquez (29-3, 13 KOs) both won non-title fights in Mexico over the weekend. Segura scored a first round knockout of Eddy Zuniga and Vazquez Stopped Marlon Aguilar in two rounds in Toluca, Mexico.
Martin Murray (23-0, 10 KOs) stopped Nick Blackwell (8-1) in the fifth round of a middleweight battle in Lancashire, England on Saturday. Also, Joe Murray remained undefeated with a win by unanimous decision over James Ancliff (11-14-2) in a featherweight bout.
Junior lightweight Melissa St. Vil (2-1-2) beat Evette Collazo (4-2) by unanimous decision on Saturday in Rising Sun, Indiana. St. Vil fights out of New York City and Collazo fights out of Chicago.
Yory Boy Campos (98-15-1, 77 KOs) knocked out Rogelio Medina (26-2, 19 KOs) at the end of the fifth round on Friday in Navajoa, Mexico. Campos is a former welterweight and junior middleweight world champion.
WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovtkin (21-0, 18 KOs) scored a technical knockout over Riverside’s Kassim Ouma (27-8-1, 17 KOs) at 1:57 of round 10. The title fight took place in Panama City, Panama. In another title match Anselmo Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KOs) won the vacant WBA bantamweight title by knockout over Lorenzo Parra (31-3-1, 18 KOs) in round eight.
Karim Mayfield (14-0-1, 9 KOs) stopped former world champion Steve Forbes (35-10) at 1:03 of round 10 in a welterweight bout on Friday in Austin, Texas. On the same card, dangerous Grady Brewer (28-12, 16 KOs) upset another undefeated contender with a fourth round stoppage of Fernando Guerrero (21-1, 16 KOs) in a middleweight clash.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?