When Leo Randolph upset Ricardo Cardona with a come-from behind fifteen-round stoppage
to win the W.B.A. junior featherweight title, he became the third member of the 1976 U.S.
Olympic Team's record-setting gold medalists to capture a professional crown, following in the
footsteps of Leon Spinks and 'Sugar Ray' Leonard.
A fourth member of the club Howard Davis Jr., will be fighting for the WBC version of the
worldweight title against Jim Watt and the final member, Michael Spinks, seems to be headed
for a shot at the light heavyweight crown before the end of 1980.
Since the beginning of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, eleven have captured Olympic gold
medals and gone on to win world pro titles prior to Randolph, but only twice did the same
Games produce two world chmapions.
The first was the 1924 Paris games, in which Fidel LaBarba won the flyweight title and Jackie
Fields took the featherweight medal, and in 1960 at Rome when Nino Benvenuti took the
welterweight and Cassius Clay the light heavyweight laurels. Now Randolph has set a new
record at three for the Montreal Games, with a strong possibility of it becoming four and even a
perfect five for five by the American team.
Of the other double winners all have been Americans, aside from Benvenuti, Pascual Perez of
Argentina who took the flyweight title in 1948 at London and Mate Parlov of Yugoslavia who
captured the light heavyweight in Munich in 1972. The other U.S. winners were Frankie
Genaro in Antwerp in 1920; Floyd Patterson in Helsinski in 1952; Joe Frazier in Tokyo in
1964 and George Foreman in Mexico City in 1968.
Randolph, who captured the flyweight title in Montreal by edging out Cuba's Ramon Duvalon
by a single point margin (3-2), was a big underdog against Cardona of Columbia who was
making his sixth defense of the title he won two years ago.
Leo, one of eight children-was born in Columbus, Mississippi, grew up and still lives in
Tacoma, Washington. He had his whole family, with the exception of his mother, on hand in
Seattle to root for him, and ninety-nine percent of the crowd as well. He was only eighteen, the
youngest American to ever win a gold. Although he had well over 150 amateur fights behind
him, Leo had not exactly been what one might call "a ball of fire" during his eighteen-bout
professional career that began on June 20, 1978, in Seattle when he stopped Alphonse
Delgadillo in the second round.
After winning an eight-round decision over Tony Reed in Kansas City on July 12, he switched
his base of operations to the East Coast under the direction of Lou Duva and had six of his next
eight fights in the East without making a real impression on anyone. He turned in a six-round
decision over Marcelo Santiago in his bow, then after returning home to win in eight over Eddie
Logan and stopping super vet Carlos Zayas in one in St. Louis, he edged out Fernando
Martinez in eight, stopped Ralph Roman in two, Tony Hernandez in four, and then on April 20,
1979 lost an eight-round decision to Dave Capo in Madison Square Garden. Following an
uninspired five-round stoppage of Alfonso Cirilo in Philadelphia, Leo returned home to the
management of his old trainer Joe Clough who had coached Leo from the first time he laced on
gloves. Joe had in fact hitchhiked to Montreal to watch his young protege win his gold medal.
Randolph moved down to Los Angeles, and the change in managements seemed a boon as he
whipped Darryl Jones, Jose Bautista and then, on October 27, turned in an upset win over
Oscar Muniz, who at the time was rated No. 10 among the bantamweights by the WBC.
Leo gave the favorite Muniz a boxing- lesson over the first seven rounds and held off a strong
rally by Muniz down the stretch.
That was the high point of his career until the Cardona fight, which was his debut as a
122-pounder and his first try at going more than ten rounds.
Cardona, who had turned back all of his challengers on fifteen-round decisions, was a big
favorite, and although he had some visa problems and did not arrive in Seattle until three days
before the fight he still rated the odds-on favorite.
Leo took the fight to his taller and longer-armed rival right from the start. By the second round
he was bleeding from the nose and by the fourth he had a swelling under his left eye. When he
was nailed with a beaut of a right cross in the fifth and sent rubber-legged to the canvas, it
looked as if it was going to be a short night for him.
However, Leo pulled himself together and, with the good use of an overhand right, a lot of
steady pressure and a fourteen-foot ring that made it difficult for Cardona to stay away at long
range, fought his way back from that knockdown to take command of the fight by the tenth
round. Then the only question was whether or not he would wilt during the last five rounds, but
it was Cardona who was getting more worn down as the rounds progressed.
Leo just kept flaying away and, while no one punch packed stunning power, he was sapping
Cardona with the steady amount of them as they fought toe to toe in what was one of the more
exciting fights of the year so far. It was not the type of fight one often sees among the smaller
men, a bruising struggle. By the twelfth Cardona's face was badly bruised and his legs seemed
leaden, but he kept fighting back.
The fourteenth was a big round for Leo as he pinned Cardona on the ropes and raked him with
both hands for most of the round. The cheers of the crowd were deafening as Leo waved to
them as he returned to his corner. At the bell, everyone knew a new champion was to be
Cardona tried to hold Leo off in the last round. The spirit might have be strong but the flesh
was weak and, as was pinned on the ropes for a full minute making only feeble efforts to defend
himself, referee Larry Rozadilla wisely stepped in and called a halt at 1:31 the round. His
decision proved even wiser when Cardona collaped in sheer exhaustion a few minutes later and
lay prone on the canvas for some time before he was able to leave the ring. He spent overnight
at the hospital, but suffered no injuries.
For Leo, with whom we spoke at Boxing Writers' Dinner a few nig later, it was indeed a
greater triune than that he scored in Montreal. Wt few would put him in the same class the other
From Boxing Illustrated
|Leo Randolph hangin' out with Leon Spinks.
showing off the