Sugar Ray Leonard punished Willie (Fireball) Rodriguez for six rounds today and easily recorded a unamimous decision in a junior welterweight bout before 6,826 at the Civic Center.
Leonard in his second pro fight, found the game Rodriguez an easy target. Leonard continuously found openings for his left jabs and quick right crosses. After Rodriquez took a standing eight-count in the third round, the Olympic gold medalist sensed he had Rodriguez, where he wanted him.
Good combinations by Leonard rendered Rodriguez helpless in the fifth and sixth rounds. However, the 22-year-old Rodrigues refused to fold under the constant barrage of Leonard punches.
Judges Ray Klingmeyer ruled it 30-34, Tom Kelly, 30-23 and referee Terry Moore gave Leonard the edge 30-23.
The bout had been postponed since April 2 when Leonard suffered a cut lip while sparring three days before the scheduled fight.
Leonard, who defeated Luis Vega in his pro debut in February, received more than $40,000, most of it in th form of a guarantee from the American Broadcasting Co., which telecast the bout.
Angelo Dundee, the trainer of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, who manages Leonard, said the Palmer Park., Md., resident "fought a good heady fight."
"He paid his dues out there," Dundee said. "He was hit with a couple of 'sucker' shots. It won't happen again."
Dave Jacobs, Leonard's longtime trainer, said he thought Leonard was shaken several times by Rodriguez, "because he was a little careless."
A ferocious 30-second flurry in the third round by Leonard brought the Partisan Baltimore crowd to their feet. Leonard then connected on three straight right hands and referee Moore stepped in and gave Rodriguez a standing eight-count.
Rodriguez, who lost for the second time in 12 fights, bounced back and began to get under Leonard's left jabs and connected with Leonard's midsection and face. A good right cross caught Leonard square on the chin, splitting his lip. With Jacobs urging him on, Leonard stuck with his first plan and began moving and jabbing.