Benitez vs Leonard – 1979

Benitez vs Leonard - 1979  This WBC title fight match-up Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas was a real treat for boxing fans in that it pitted two very technically gifted fighters against one another. Both entered the fight undefeated and it’s a rare thing in boxing to get two fighters taking each other on at the top of their game. Feints, footwork, defense and counter-punching all at top level, a real boxing fans fight.

Benitez entered the ring as champion (and was only 21 years of age) but also as the underdog. He had been champion before, and was actually the youngest fighter to win a World Championship, at the age of just 17 against Antonio Cervantes. Leonard, and olympic gold medalist entered the fight with a record of 25-0.

The bout itself was tactic to the extreme, with Leonard taking control in the early rounds resulting in a knockdown. However far from ending the champions chances it appeared to wake him from his slumber. Later in the bout Leonard regained control issuing a flurry of ounches with Benitez on the ropes. Round 15 (remember those days!) had it all though, with both fighters entering the tank in dramatic fashion. In the final seconds of the fight Leonard against floored Benitez but he rose to his feet. Leonard claimed his first world championship and Benitez certainly did himself justice. Two titans, head to head.

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