Ahead of 'The Kings', a Look Back at SI's Coverage From Boxing's Heyday

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On Sunday, Showtime will premier the first episode of a four-part documentary series titled The Kings that explores the golden era of welterweight champions from 1980–89. These are household names: Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. These are glorious nicknames: Hands of Stone, Marvelous, Sugar and The Hitman.

The doc also gives Sports Illustrated the chance to look back at our coverage of a sport in its heyday, the characters involved, the motivations, the fights, the iconic covers. The lineup of writers who chronicled this era is as deep and legendary as the boxers themselves. Read what they wrote, see what they saw and consider that in its long history SI covered boxing as well or better than any other sport. Proof? Right here.

SUGAR RAY LEONARD

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One More Shot
By William Nack

Still unable to find contentment in life outside of the ring, Sugar Ray Leonard is back for a fifth fling with his first love

Sugar Sure Is Sweet
By William Nack

In driving toward a welterweight title shot, Ray Leonard has evoked another Sugar Ray and that venerable Leonard, Benny

One for the Ages
By Pat Putnam

Sugar Ray Leonard, 33, beat Roberto Duran, 38, in a fight dedicated to posterity

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‘Everything I Did Worked'
By William Nack

Sugar Ray Leonard couldn’t help exulting over his upset of Marvelous Marvin Hagler

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The World According to Ray
By Gary Smith

Ray Leonard dreams of peace and detachment, and he knows only one way to keep the dream alive: by returning to the ring, this time to meet Roberto Duran

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Another Classic
By Pat Putnam

Sugar Ray Leonard survived two knockdowns and escaped with a draw in a thrilling rematch against Thomas Hearns

One Life Fulfilled
By Frank Deford

Ray Leonard was the hit of ‘81, beating Ayub Kalule and then Thomas Hearns to win a pair of titles

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The Big Bellyache
By William Nack

In a stunning fall from glory, Roberto Duran, the apostle of machismo, blamed stomach cramps as he surrendered his welterweight title to Sugar Ray Leonard

One Who Will Be Made Whole
By Rick Reilly

Marvelous Marvin Hagler needs Sugar Ray Leonard, and vice versa. One of them is about to be fulfilled.

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Clearing the Way for the Big Payday
By Pat Putnam

Against a background of lurid dealing, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns won their Houston semis and advanced to the welter finals

‘There Is a Burning Desire in Me’
By William Nack

So says Sugar Ray Leonard of his astounding decision—for someone at once rich, renowned and ring-rusty—to challenger Marvelous Marvin Hagler

MARVIN HAGLER

Marvelous Was Something Less Than Marvelous
By William Nack

Marvin Hagler proved himself the best middleweight on the block, but Roberto Duran showed he is a fighter for the ages and should again be the object of celebration

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Eight Minutes of Fury
By Pat Putnam

Marvin Hagler unleashed an all-out assault against Thomas Hearns to retain his middleweight crown

A Sinister Reputation
By Pat Putnam

Lefthander Marvin Hagler puts fighters into hospitals and managers into shock

Comeback for the Ages
By William Nack

Idle for almost three years, Sugar Ray Leonard made a spectacular return to the ring by beating Marvin Hagler to win the middleweight title

What’s in a Name?
By William Nack

When middleweight champ Marvin Hagler added Marvelous to his name, he wasn‘t on an ego trip, only confirming what hard work has wrought

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Sugar Ray?
By Rick Telender

Marvelous Marvin Hagler has found contentment asm, of all things, an actor in Italy

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‘Let the World Know I’m OK’
By William Nack

Despite reports to the contrary, Marvin Hagler says he hasn’t let his life to to pieces since losing to Sugar Ray Leonard

THOMAS HEARNS

The Last of the Legends
By Pat Putnam

Thomas Hearns, unlike three former illustrious peers, is still a champion

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The Dreamer
By Bob Ottum

Adulation has come at last to Detroit’s Thomas Hearns, and if his grandest visions of glory become reality, that will be bad news for Ray Leonard

Better Than a Barroom Brawl
By Pat Putnam

Middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler and challenger Thomas Herans both insist that their April 15 title fight will not go beyond the third round. Don’t bet on that

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Punching and Praying
By Jack McCallum

Thomas Hearns stalks a rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard

ROBERTO DURAN

Roberto Duran Lost the Fight When He Let a Sucker Punch Humiliate Him
By Bob Ottum

It wasn't Sugar Ray Leonard's savage blows or lightning jabs that beat Roberto Duran last Nov. 25; it was the fact that Leonard humiliated Duran in Round 7

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Marvelous Was Something Less Than Marvelous
By William Nack

Marvin Hagler proved himself the best middleweight on the block, but Roberto Duran showed he is a fighter for the ages and should again be the object of celebration

Punch Now Bat Later
By Pat Putnam

He’d sooner player shortstop, but Duran saves his hands for slugging opponents

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From Hard Punches, a Life of Ease
By William Nack

Ahead of Roberto Duran’s fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, Stonehands reminds everyone that he’s not the only one with weaknesses

The Big Bellyache
By William Nack

In a stunning fall from glory, Roberto Duran, the apostle of machismo, blamed stomach cramps as he surrendered his welterweight title to Sugar Ray Leonard

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No Màs...Please!
By Leigh Montville

His glory days but a faint memory, Roberto Duran wants to keep fighting, even after a lopsided second loss to Vinny Pazienza

Lost in Translation
By Richard Hoffer

In regards to the two most famous words in all of sports, Roberto Duran never said them. So where did ‘no màs,’ the most memorable phrase yet for athletic capitulation, come from?