Today in Sports History: September 16

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By Jonah Sharf

On September 16, 1981, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard beat Thomas Hearns to unify the welterweight championship. Leonard was struggling to deal with Hearns’ reach advantage for the majority of the scheduled 15-round fight, but knocked Hearns down in the thirteenth round. After finally seeming to wear him down in the thirteenth, Leonard continued his barrage of combinations in the fourteenth, and the referee mercifully came in and stopped the fight. Hearns had clearly been winning after the first five rounds, when Leonard finally came alive and began to fight back in the sixth through eighth rounds, but Hearns adjusted and began to dominate again until the pivotal thirteenth round. After the fight was called in the fourteenth round, Hearns was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. Leonard became the undisputed welterweight champion of the world with the KO, and it is widely considered one of the greatest boxing matches of all time.

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