With snake-quick rights and left hook combinations, Sugar Ray Leonard pushed his professional boxing record to 22-0 today with a unanimous decision over Mexican middleweight champion Marcos Geraldo.
Although Geraldo carried the fight to Leonard all 10 rounds, he was not quick enough to make use of his four-inch reach advantage over the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner from Palmer Park, Md.
"It was my taughest fight," said Leonard. "In the second or third round, we butted heads and I was seeing three. I kept moving. It was the reason I kept moving so much, trying to get my eyes so I could keep them in focus.
"A few times I got into a corner intentionally because I saw an opportunity to really do a number on him," he said. "Unfortunately, he was in better shape than I thought he was."
Judges Charlie Joseph and Maxie Docusen scored the fight 6-3-1 in favour of Leonard, while referee Peter Giarrusso gave Leonard a 7-2-1 advantage.
Fighting at 153 pounds, Leonard was seven pounds lighter than Geraldo although it was the heaviest he has weighed for a bout. The extra weight did not slow Leonard and Geraldo, although aggressive, could not counter the smaller man's speed.
Geraldo, 24, had a 42-12 record going into the match. He had won his last seven fights by knockouts.
Leonard, who turned 23 while training here last week, plans to use the victory over Geraldo as a step toward taking on Wilfredo Benitez, the World Boxing Council's welterweight champion. He reportedly plans to fight Benitez, in September, but Leonard's manager has not confirmed the bout.
Leonard was cut slightly over his right eye in the seventh round, but finished with energy to spare and in high spirits. At the bell ending the 10th round, Geraldo grabbed Leonard in a bear hug and lifted him off the floor, a victory salute for the man he knew had beat him.
In the fifth round, Geraldo forced Leonard into a cormer and pounded away with both hands. But, typical of the entire fight, Leonard swatted away some punches with his hands and slipped others with quick, short head movements.