In this month's fantasy matchup, we're pitching one of the best welterweights of the 80s and all-time boxing legend, Sugar Ray Leonard, against one of the today's top welterweights, the hard-hitting southpaw, Errol Spence Jr.
The 1980s, widely considered the golden era of welterweight boxing, gave us some of the most memorable matchups the division has ever seen. It would become known as the time of 'The Four Kings' - Marvin Hagler, Roberto Durán, Thomas Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
While you'd be hard-pressed to say who was the true number one amongst the four Hall of Famers, an irrefutable fact is that Sugar Ray Leonard fought, and found a way to overcome, all three of his rivals.
Leonard's first encounter with one of the 'Kings' came in June 1980 and would see him lose a unanimous decision over 15 rounds as he tried to go toe-to-toe against a ferocious Roberto Durán. The immediate rematch in November of that same year would see Leonard employ a different strategy - using his superior boxing skill to quite literally frustrate Durán into submission.
Leonard would go on to cement his legacy with a knockout win and a contentious draw against Hearns, a narrow (and often disputed) win over Marvin Hagler, and a third victory over Durán. Regardless of your thoughts on the Hearns draw and the Hagler win, there are few who would deny Leonard his place as one of the top welterweights of all time.
How then would he compare to one of our current best?
Errol Spence Jr made a name for himself back in 2017 when, after stringing together a series of 21 straight wins, he challenged IBF welterweight champion, Kel Brook.
Brook was entering the fight on the back of a stoppage loss in a brutal encounter against Gennady Golovkin up at middleweight. As we see so often in boxing, there can come a single fight that takes something out of a boxer and seemingly ages them overnight - for Kel Brook this was quite possibly the Golovkin fight. Despite this, Brook vs Spence Jr. was, for the most part, extremely competitive, but in the later rounds the younger, fresher Spence broke the champion down and forced a stoppage.
Since then Spence Jr has successfully defended the IBF belt four times and has earned his place as one of the division's top names alongside the likes of Terrence Crawford, Manny Paqciaou, Shawn Porter, and Keith Thurman.
We are yet to see how good Spence Jr is. In his last fight against Shawn Porter, he came out on top - adding the WBC belt to his collection, but Porter certainly exposed a few vulnerabilities. His next big test comes against Danny Garcia in December and should he come through that we would hope to see him pursue one of the other champions to truly find his place in the current crop.
While Spence Jr. has a way to go before reaching the status of Sugar Ray, a clash between the two would be explosive. Now it's over to you. Would Spence Jr's power and shot selection be enough to overcome the footwork and lightning-fast hands of Sugar Ray Leonard? Here's how the two stack up on paper -
Sugar Ray Leonard
|Height||5 ft 10½″|
|Wins by KO||25|
Errol Spence Jr.
|Height||5 ft 9½″|
|Wins by KO||21|
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