“Sugar” Ray Leonard was born Ray Charles Leonard after his mother’s favorite singer, Ray Charles. “Sugar” Ray didn’t go on to make hit songs and records though. He went on to hit people in the face with boxing gloves around his hands.
A Hall of Fame inductee and the “Boxer of the Decade” for the 1980’s, Ray Leonard will no doubt go down in history as one of the best boxers in the history of the sport.
In the newest installment of “The Voice Vs.” Michael Schiavello sits down with the boxing icon to talk about his career both inside and outside the ring.
The first three minutes of this interview might be my favorite three minutes of any Voice Vs. episode as Leonard talks about his grandfather punching a mule, meeting Ray Charles, and his wife singing karaoke.
From there Leonard gets into his career as a boxer, starting as an amateur and working his way up the ranks as a pro. Leonard fought all the big names in his division in the 1980’s including Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, and Marvin Hagler and he gives his thoughts on all of those big-time fights including how Duran got in his head in their first fight, how he made Duran quit in their second bout, the right hand of Hearns, and spying on Hagler prior to their fight.
The most interesting story Leonard shares is how he was involved in rescuing a kidnapped baby. It’s a story that you have to hear to believe. Leonard also opens up about being sexually molested when he was younger by some of his coaches, which was very heart wrenching to listen to.
For those looking for a MMA connection, Leonard talks about his relationship with 1976 US Olympic teammate Howard Davis Jr, who works as a boxing director at American Top Team and appeared on The Ultimate Fighter 14 as part of Chuck Liddell’s coaching staff. Leonard also talks about potentially helping a certain UFC superstar with his boxing.
Once again, I have to give a lot of credit to Schiavello as an interviewer. He’s very knowledgeable about the sport and Leonard and he makes Leonard feel very comfortable sitting across from him, which allows Leonard to open up more and share things that he may not share with other interviewers.
Of course it wouldn’t be an episode of The Voice Vs. without Schiavello and his subject playing the game, “Knock Out, Choke Out, Wedgie, and Bowl of Fried Shrimp.” During this portion of the interview, Leonard gives the best answer I’ve ever heard when deciding on what he wants to do to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
What’s disappointing about The Voice Vs. Ray Leonard is the lack of video. This is no fault of Schiavello or Leonard and I’m sure it has everything to do with rights issues and HDNet not being able to acquire the footage, but it’s definitely noticeable throughout the show. There are photos spread throughout but for those who don’t have a sense of boxing history and haven’t seen footage of Leonard fight, it would have been a nice video of his fights and knockouts as he describes them.
As a minimal boxing fan who wasn’t born until the tail end of Leonard’s career, I really enjoyed this interview. Leonard was very open and came off as a likeable guy who has no regrets about his career. After watching this interview, I immediately popped in Fight Night Champion to PS3 and started boxing people up with Ray Leonard. And let me tell you, it was a satisfying feeling.
The Voice Vs. “Sugar” Ray Leonard airs on Friday, August 19, at 10 PM EST on HDNet.
PHOTO CREDIT – HDNET