It was supposed to be a Garden party for Sugar Ray Leonard, but it turned out to be a retirement party - and it was anything but a happy occasion for the man who had won five world titles.
Terry Norris knocked down Leonard twice and beat him up over 12 rounds Saturday night in Leonard's Madison Square Garden debut. It was a rout."It definitely is my last fight," Leonard said.
The three judges favored the 23-year-old Norris by a range of six to 16 points. The fight for the World Boxing Council super welterweight title held by Norris turned out to be a case of son knows best.
"My son (17-year-old Ray Jr.) told me I was an old man," said Leonard, who will be 35 on May 17. "Maybe he was right."
Leonard isn't an old man, but on this night before 7,495 fans, he surely was an old fighter.
The famed Leonard footwork and hand speed were not there. Not to be seen were the dazzling combinations, unless you were looking at Norris.
Leonard wore black, but to some ringsiders, it seemed the great Sugar Ray certainly must be the speedy, talented young man in the white trunks. He was the one performing like the Sugar Ray who beat Duran and Hagler and Hearns.
Leonard acknowledged as much.
"He was a young Sugar Ray Leonard," said the old one. "He's going to get better. If he maintains the same concentration and focus he had against me, he's going to get better.
"It's time for the young guys to take control."
Control in this fight was taken in the second round when Norris knocked Leonard down just before the bell. Leonard was knocked down again in the seventh round, and has been knocked down five times in his last four fights.
"It's a sad victory," Norris said. "He's my idol; he's still my idol."
Before the fight, Leonard had said, "I won't allow it to be driven into my head that I've lost something." But Norris drove it in, early and often, with jabs, left hooks and counter punches of amazing speed and accuracy.
Leonard went down from a left hook late in the second round. The punch sent him tottering backwards and he fell in a heap. Norris chased after him and threw a left hand that grazed Leonard's head while he was down.
Leonard got up at 3 and the bell rang.
The second knockdown came with 25 seconds left in the seventh round, when Norris countered from off the ropes with a left hook and a right that dropped Leonard. He bounced up immediately but took a mandatory 8-count.
Leonard never really could get his rhythm. He was flat-footed and slow, and by the end his face was a mask of pain and exhaustion.
Norris, who weighed 1521/2 pounds to 154 for Leonard, said that if Leonard stood and slugged with him, he'd knock him out. A couple of times, it looked like it might happen, but Norris always kept his poise and never took any undo chances with a fighter he obviously respected.
Leonard, who lost for the second time against 36 victories and a draw, with 25 knockouts, had won the undisputed welterweight title, a piece of the 154-pound title and pieces of the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight championships.
Judge Barabara Perez scored it 120-104, Sid Rubenstein called it 119-103 and Billy Costello had it 116-110, all for Norris.
The AP scored it 118-108 for Norris.
Norris, of Campo, Calif., now has a 27-3 record with 15 knockouts. He might have made $500,000 Saturday night, but he assurred himself of some big paydays in the future.
It's doubtful Leonard made the $4 million his attorney, Mike Trainer, said he would make.
The gross at the Garden was $943,550 and Showtime reportedly paid $2.1 million to televise the fight.
A Compubox computer analysis of the fight said Norris connected on 302 of 669 punches, 45.1 percent, to Leonard's 189 of 485, 39 percent.