Promoted as “The Showdown in Motown” Sugar Ray Leonard (30-1 with 21 KO) fought Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns (32-0 with 30 KO) on September 16, 1981, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan to unify the world welterweight championship in a scheduled fifteen-rounder. They fought before a live crowd of 23,618 and a worldwide TV audience of some 300 million.

The fight began as expected, Leonard boxing from a distance and Hearns stalking. Leonard had difficulty with Hearns’ long reach and sharp jab. By the end of round five, Leonard had a growing swelling under his left eye, and Hearns had built a considerable lead on the scorecards. Leonard, becoming more aggressive, hurt Hearns in the sixth with a left hook to the chin. Leonard battered Hearns in rounds six and seven, but Hearns miraculously regrouped. Hearns started to stick and move, and he started to pile up points again. The roles reversed: Leonard became the stalker and Hearns became the boxer. Hearns won rounds nine through twelve on all three scorecards. Between rounds twelve and thirteen, Leonard’s trainer, the legendary Angelo Dundee, said the now legendary words “You’re blowing it now, son! You’re blowing it!”