Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Sugar Ray Leonard was on the floor.
Not for long, a count of five to be exact, but the former Olympic champion from Palmer Park, Md., ruefully discovered Tuesday night how the other half lives.
Dick Ecklund, a young strongman from nearby Lowell, Mass., sent Leonard to the floor following a brisk exchange in the ninth round. It was a right hand, and the punch lifted the crowd of 5,000 in Hynes Auditorium to its feet in anticipation of a shocking boxing upset.
But it wasn't to be, as Leonard was awarded an unanimous decision over the game but outclassed youngster.
Leonard, in turn, dropped Ecklund four times. One of the knockdowns came only seconds before Leonard himself hit the floor.
Despite his game stand, Ecklund wasn't to be the fighter who would halt Leonard's winning streak at 12. But for a few seconds in the ninth, the hometown folks had hopes.
Leonard controlled the bout from the opening bell. He boxed beautifully during the early portion of the fight, then turned it on in a desperate attempt to register his ninth pro knockout.
Ecklund, however, wouldn't stay down. After each knockdown - they came in the second, sixth, ninth and 10th rounds, Ecklund jumped up and waved Leonard to "come get me."
The fight was furious to the finish and both fighters were looking for the one big shot until the sound of the final bell was drowned out in the bedlam.