For several long, agonizing minutes after being knocked helpless by what Sugar Ray Leonard called "the hardest single punches I've ever thrown," Dave Green sat stunned in his dressing room. Doctors worked feverishly over the still-groggy Briton.

"Green is fine, mentally and physically," said Andy Smith, his trainer. "He was shook up and we felt it was best he remain in the back and rest. You can understand that recovering from a knockout is one thing. To come out and answer questions is another. I don't think it would do justice to Davey if we put him through that."

Green, bringing an impressive 33-2 pro record into last night's WBC welterweight bout at Capital Centre, never had a chance. He barely laid a glove on the swift, slick Leonard while most of the partisan fans waited for the expected knockout. It came swiftly.

"Davey walked into a left hand," said Smith. "And then he was hit by two more sizzling punches. And when he fell, his head hit the mat. It knocked him out. There was no way under those conditions we were going to allow him to continue, had he got up."

"I'm not ashamed of my boy. We thought he boxed better than we had ever seen," Smith continued. "He didn't lose control and for the rounds he stayed he did all the right things."

Leonard, in his first title defense, toyed with Green for the first three rounds before landing a solid left hand that put Green away. The count reached six before referee Art Mercante ruled the flight over.Knockout, Leonard.

"The first few rounds, I just tried to confuse him," said Leonard, now 27-0. "I knew he couldn't maintain the fast pace I had begun in the third round. I shortened up my punches to get more power. I was a bit shook up when he fell and didn't move. I felt a little bit of paranoia. I just didn't know. He just laid still."

Just after Green was helped to the locker room, fellow Britishers rushed inside to check on his condition. One Green handler kept saying over and over, "He gave him (Leonard) that much space, just that much space." He illustrated by holding his hands four inches apart.

Another member of Green's entourage said, "That was all he needed."

One handler bent over Green and asked him if he was okay. Green paused even so slightly, looked skyward and whispered, "I'm fine. I'm fine. Thank you very much."

Most of the Green party then turned to talking about the fighter that had rendered their hero defenseless.

"That Leonard is something else," said Smith."Here is a man being born to be the greatest welterweight in the world. He hit Davey with a hard shot, an excellent punch. Leonard is going to be the best fighter at his weight ever. He has everything."

Leonard spent much of the early evening running from his seat in the audience to his brother Roger's corner lending advice on how to handle Johnny Gant in their preliminary welterweight bout. Roger listened to Ray's words of "press him, press him," and earned a unanimous decision.

"I'm sure Ray will press Green in their fight too," said the older Leonard, now 13-0.

The champion didn't have to. The only time Green even got close to the quick-moving miniature Muhammad Ali lookalike was in the clinches.

"He hit me with a good body punch but it wasn't that effective," said Leonard. "But I watched Green in two fights and I knew if he hit me he could hurt me. He has the will to win. He is a good fighter."

"I never thought Davey would win after the second round," said another member of Green's entourage. "Leonard was just a bit too swift. He hits with lightning. I'm glad Davey wasn't too badly hurt. That punch was awful."

Leonard was ahead on points, having won the first three rounds easily. Green's only chance seemingly was to catch Leonard with a knockout punch.

But Green was too slow, and found himself in a three-minute struggle to defend himself from the stinging combinations Leonard administered at will. And then Green left that one little bit of space.