Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Héctor Camacho

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Héctor Camacho, billed as "Defying the Odds", was a professional boxing match contested between former five-division world champion Sugar Ray Leonard and defending IBC middleweight champion Héctor Camacho. The bout took place on March 1, 1997 at the Convention Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with Camacho's IBC title on the line. Camacho retained his title via fifth-round technical knockout.

Defying the Odds
Leonard vs Camacho.jpg
DateMarch 1, 1997
VenueConvention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
Title(s) on the lineIBC middleweight title
Tale of the tape
Boxer Ray Leonard Héctor Camacho
Nickname "Sugar" "Macho"
Hometown Palmer Park, Maryland, U.S. Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Purse $4,000,000 $2,000,000
Pre-fight record 36–2–1 62–3–1
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) 5 ft 6½ in
Weight 159 lb (72 kg) 159 lb (72 kg)
Style Orthodox Southpaw
Recognition Former five-division world champion IBC middleweight champion
Camacho defeats Leonard by fifth-round technical knockout


In 1996, "Sugar" Ray Leonard began talks to end his fourth retirement and return to boxing to face former 3-division world champion Héctor Camacho.[1] After months of negotiations, the fight was officially announced at a press conference in October.[2] The 40-year old Leonard had not fought since losing to WBC super welterweight champion Terry Norris by a lopsided unanimous decision in February 1991, whilst the 34-year old Camacho had not won a major world title fight since 1990 and was also considered past his prime, though he had captured the lightly regarded IBC middleweight title after defeating Roberto Durán in June 1996. After defeating Duran, Camacho challenged Leonard, who was working as a broadcaster for the fight, and negotiations between the two fighters began two days later.[3] Despite both fighters being past their prime, there was considerable hype for the fight as Leonard both appeared on the cover and was the subject of the feature story of the March 3, 1997 issue of Sports Illustrated[4] and the decision was made to broadcast the fight on pay-per-view.[5]

In December 1996, the fight was put in jeopardy when the New Jersey Casino Control Commission refused to allow New Contenders Inc. to promote the fight due to alleged organized crime ties and legal issues had by New Contenders chairman Michael Blutrich.[6] Both the bout's sponsor Sun International and television provider TVKO (HBO's pay-per-view division) both pulled out as a result of the controversy. However, the fight was back on the following month after finding a new promoter (Dillon Promotions), a new sponsor (Caesars Atlantic City) and a new pay-per-view distributor (Titan Sports Inc.).[7]

The fightEdit

Hampered by a previously undisclosed calf injury that limited his mobility, Leonard struggled throughout the fight. Camacho would open a cut over Leonard's eye in the fourth with an accidental headbutt. Camacho would then open the fifth round stunning Leonard with a left hook followed by a right hand and three left uppercuts that dropped Leonard to the canvas. A dazed Leonard would get up and continue the fight but Camacho swarmed in with a barrage of unanswered punches forcing the referee to stop the fight at 1:08 of the round, giving Camacho a victory by technical knockout. [8][9]

Preceded by
KO6 Heath Todd
Héctor Camacho's bouts
March 1, 1997
Succeeded by
Preceded by Sugar Ray Leonard's bouts
March 1, 1997

Fight cardEdit

Weight Class Weight vs. Method Round Notes
Middleweight 160 lbs. Héctor Camacho (c) def. Ray Leonard TKO 5/12 Note 1
Cruiserweight 200 lbs. Robert Daniels def. Kenny Keene SD 12/12
Light middleweight 154 lbs. Charles Murray def. Livingstone Bramble UD 10/10
Super Featherweight 130 lbs. Paul Spadafora def Joe Lafontant PTS 6/6

^Note 1 For IBC Middleweight title


  1. ^ Sugar Ray Considers Comeback, Tulsa World article, 1996-08-02 Retrieved on 2020-03-04
  2. ^ Leonard Positive His Return to Ring Is the Right Decision, LA Times article, 1996-10-26 Retrieved on 2020-03-04
  3. ^ "Macho" Leonard Still Can't Walk Away from Boxing, Sun-Sentinel article, 1996-12-04 Retrieved on 2020-03-06
  4. ^ Still a Warrior, Sports Illustrated article, 1997-03-03 Retrieved on 2020-03-06
  5. ^ Leonard–Camacho: One for the Aged, Washington Post article, 1997-03-01 Retrieved on 2020-03-06
  6. ^ Leonard's Comeback Bout on the Ropes, Associated Press article, 1996-12-05 Retrieved on 2020-03-06
  7. ^ Leonard-Camacho fight back on for March 1, Associated Press article, 1996-12-05 Retrieved on 2020-03-06
  8. ^ So Long, Sugar, Sports Illustrated article, 1991-02-18 Retrieved on 2020-02-28
  9. ^ Sweet 'n Low, Sports Illustrated article, 1997-03-10 Retrieved on 2020-03-08