On September 16, 1981, WBC welterweight champion ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard faced WBA welterweight champion Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns in a unification fight, billed as ‘The Showdown’, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. In a classic encounter between boxer and puncher, it was the puncher, Hearns, who held sway in the early rounds. His height and reach advantage caused Leonard problems, allowing him to land his jab and dictate the pace of the fight. However, in rounds six and seven, Leonard connected with a series of heavy shots to head and body that had Hearns reeling about the ring on more than one occasion.
Over the next three rounds, in a case of role reversal, Leonard continued his aggressive pursuit of Hearns, in search of a knockout punch. However, Hearns kept him at bay and, in so doing, regained his composure. By round eleven, Hearns was once again in control, but a timely intervention by trainer Angelo Dundee at the end of the twelfth reinvigorated Leonard. With renewed urgency, Leonard connected with a vicious right hand and followed up with a flurry of unanswered blows that twice sent Hearns tumbling through the ropes. Hearns answered the bell for the fourteenth round, but clearly had nothing left and, with Leonard landing more heavy, unanswered shots at will, the referee stepped in to stop the contest. No-one in Hearns’ corner questioned the stoppage.