• December 7 down the years

Sugar Ray bows out on a high

The sporting events of December 7 down the years
Sugar Ray Leonard evades a punch © Getty Images

A full day at the Melbourne Olympic Games. In the team time trial on the road, Britain's cyclists won the silver medal - but it would have been a different colour but for some incredibly bad luck. When an idiot photographer stepped onto the course, he collided with Billy Holmes, who was not only injured but had to change a wheel, which cost him well over two minutes. If he'd finished one second faster, Britain would have won the gold.

America's Pat McCormick completed the double double in diving. Having won gold in both springboard and highboard in 1952, she did the same here in Melbourne, a feat that's never been repeated.

Ercole Baldini of Italy was the top amateur cyclist of his day. And 1956 was his big year. He won the Olympic road race and the world pursuit title on the track, and set a world record for distance covered in one hour.

In a much less vivid fight than their meeting on November 25 nine years earlier, Sugar Ray Leonard won a unanimous decision to take Roberto Duran's WBC super-middleweight title. It was the last win of Leonard's marvellous career.

Mike McCallum was born in Jamaica. A strangely underrated boxer, his records stands any test. He held world titles at three weights from 1984 to 1995, by which time he was 39 - and the list of his victims reads like a who's who of the medium weights: Don Curry, Milt McCrory, Sumbu Kalimbay, the previously unbeaten Julian Jackson, and British fighters Herol Graham, Michael Watson and Steve Collins. McCallum specialised in body punches, and his chin was so strong he was never stopped in his pro career. In his last fight, when he was 40, he went 12 rounds with James Toney for a version of the cruiserweight title.

On their tour of Europe, the All Blacks had to come through some hard matches, including the first international in Dublin, where Ireland took the lead through a converted try by new cap John Fortune on the right wing. New Zealand needed a second-half penalty by their massive full-back Don Clarke to win the game 6-5.

Leo Diegel retained the USPGA title the hard way. Having beaten all-time greats Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen in the quarter-final and semi, he won the final with four holes to play against 1928 US Open champion Johnny Farrell.

One of the weirdest billiards matches ended with an American called Jefferson beating Britain's William Dufton by 47 points. Dufton played with a billiard cue, Jefferson with his nose!

Azam Khan retained the British Open squash championship he won for the first time earlier in the year. In this second Final, he met Roshan Khan, who came from a 'rival' side of the family and had taken the title from Azam's brother, the mighty Hashim, in 1957. Azam's revenge was brutal and brisk: he needed only 19 minutes to beat Roshan Khan 9-1 9-0 9-0. Azam won the Open four times in a row, before injury and the death of a son robbed him of his desire. Even with a busted Achilles, he was good enough to thrash Jonah Barrington regularly during practice in 1966, the year Barrington won his first British Open. There's a strong body of opinion that Azam may have been the best of all time.

In the last Varsity match to be staged at Queen's Club, big Bernard Jacot scored three tries for Oxford in their 17-14 win over Cambridge.

The Dark Blues included four South Africans in the team that won 14-8, allowing Cambridge wags to mutter that they'd been beaten by Springboxford.

In the helpfully thin air of Mexico City, the great Jeannie Longo Ciprelli set her sixth and last world record for distance cycled in one hour. Her total of 44,767 metres lasted three years.