In 1981 Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns duked it out at Caesar’s Palace for the World Welterweight Title. Although Sugar Ray was the WBC champion going into the fight, his opponent held the WBA title and was undefeated. The fight began as it was expected to: Hearns rapidly closed in on Sugar Ray. Hearns’ long reach and sharp jabs gave him a significant lead by the end of round five as Sugar Ray tried to get a few blows in by throwing punches from a timidly fearful distance. With Hearns’ arms opening wider and wider to receive the title, a bruised and battered Sugar Ray tightened his fists. With his vision more than likely impaired by a swelling under his left eye he threw a left hook to the chin that would change the history of boxing. In the following two rounds Sugar Ray’s refusal to be defeated screamed louder and louder with each swift throw of the fist. But then in an un-fairytale-like turn of events, Hearns began to come back. He won rounds nine through twelve on all three scoreboards. With the way things were going, the world believed that they were watching the un-doing of Sugar Ray Leonard. Hearns had the upper hand, and although Sugar Ray put up a good fight, it was possible that it wasn’t enough.
Sound familiar? When mankind fell, the world was destined to lose. We may have put up a good fight to become victorious over sin but it just wasn’t enough. Great spiritual leaders arose and set the gospel back into motion, but we never fully conquered the power that sin had on our lives.
Now back to Sugar Ray, round thirteen proved to be a moment that left the sports world breathless. He came explosively into the ring. With a furious combination of punches she sent Hearns through the ropes. Round fourteen rolled around. After completely uprooting Hearns’ lead, Sugar Ray threw an overhand right that swept Hearns into a swirl of defeat. Then Sugar Ray unleashed a combination of punches that would forever alter the way boxers looked at the game. A fire to win reignited in Sugar Ray as he threw each blow with determination and confidence. With Hearns still against the ropes, Sugar Ray continued to throw hard-hitting punches. It got to the point that referee, Davey Pearl, had to come and stop the fight. Sugar Ray Leonard was crowned the Unified World Welterweight Champion and the boxing world ignited with amazement.
When we were down and looked like we were going to lose, (John 19:30-“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”) our Heavenly Father gave us a fighter, Jesus Christ. He took each blow for us (Isaiah 53:5) and right when Satan thought he won, Jesus unleashed “a combination of punches” that freed us from death. When Christ died on that cross for us, the fight looked like it was done. But he didn’t stay down; he came back with fury and resurrected to set all mankind free. His friends ran to the now-empty tomb and rejoiced when they stood in its emptiness. In John 20:6-8 we read: “Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” Jesus Christ was declared the champion (Revelation 1:5- “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”) and Satan was forced to sulk back to his corner of defeat. If that isn’t an ultimate comeback, I don’t know what is. The tomb was empty; the underdog came out on top and will forever reign in glory. His love was what walked Him to the cross, His passion is what slid His lifeless body off of that cross and his power is what rolled that stone away. Our God is ALIVE!
“The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as He said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.” –Matthew 28:5-6