Leonard fought with his head. His most famed rival, Lew Tendler, claimed that Leonard had talked him out of the title by whispering disconcerting things between punches. Leonard's version: "He caught me over the eye with a left and I felt my knees going under me. I said, That was a good punch, Lew.' I said it in a friendly, matter-of-fact tone of voice and it put the fight on a different plane. Lew snarled, 'Never mind that stuff, come on and fight.' But I stuck out a restraining hand and said, 'No, Lew. That was really a good punch. It was all right.' Lew paused again, and by that time I had recovered my senses."
Before Leonard's fight with Richie Mitchell, the referee explained the then-new rule that after scoring a knockdown, a boxer must go to a neutral corner. Leonard suddenly registered perplexity. "Let me get this straight," he said. "As I understand it, every time I knock him down I'm to go to a neutral corner." Mitchell looked nervous. Leonard knocked him out in the sixth round after Mitchell knocked Leonard down in the first round.
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