Mark Mathosian’s photo of Sugar Ray Leonard training for his upcoming rematch with Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns at the Sheraton Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, May, 1989, via Wikimedia Commons.
Mark Mathosian’s photo of Sugar Ray Leonard training for his upcoming rematch with Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns at the Sheraton Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, May, 1989, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Sweet Science of Boxing, with Sugar Ray Leonard

Shown: Sugar Ray Leonard training for his upcoming rematch with Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns at the Sheraton Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, May, 1989. Credit: Mark Mathosian (Flickr: Sugar Ray Leonard) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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About This Episode

Float like a butterfly, sting like a….you know the rest. It’s time for us to step into the ring and see what the spotlight reveals. On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly sit down with legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and neurologist and ringside physician Dr. Anthony Alessi to help us break down the sweet science of boxing.

From Sugar Ray’s epic bouts against Roberto Duran to the science of the knockout, we cover it all. You’ll explore how boxing differs from any other sport based on what’s expected at the end of each fight. Learn the basics of Anthony’s job as a ringside physician and the very real possibility of death that looms over each bout. Explore the science behind the knockout and how cells react when altered by a devastating blow. Find out more about the largely unregulated nature of boxing and the lack of structure around concussion protocol. Anthony shares with us the great irony of boxing, as well as how bull riding and boxing are similar in their vulnerability to concussions. You’ll hear about glove and head guard protocol in amateur and Olympic boxing and whether head guards will ever transition into the professional realm. We explore if there has been progress in virtual reality training for boxers to replace sparring partners. Anthony also explains how he uses boxing to help some of his patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Then, Sugar Ray Leonard takes us inside the ring during some of his most memorable moments. You’ll find out how he changed his mentality in between his fights with Roberto Duran, and even why Sugar Ray considered retirement after his first fight with Duran. You’ll hear how Sugar Ray implemented the sweet science of boxing from an early stage in his career. We get the origin story behind Sugar Ray’s boxing and birth name, and we discover why boxers have to bring more to the fight then just power. All that, plus, Sugar Ray shares his thoughts on the future of sport and the ebbs and flows in boxing’s popularity as a sport. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Sweet Science of Boxing, with Sugar Ray Leonard.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Professional Broadcaster, Sports Analyst, former Professional Footballer
  • Guest

    Anthony Alessi

    Dr. Anthony Alessi
    Neurologist, Ringside Physician for Connecticut State Boxing Commission
  • Guest

    Sugar Ray Leonard

    Sugar Ray Leonard
    World Champion Boxer in multiple weight classes, 2X Olympic Gold Medalist

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