Leonard considers N.Y. for Norris title fight

November 16, 1990|By Alan Goldstein

Mike Trainer, Sugar Ray Leonard's attorney-manager, was in New York yesterday to confer with Madison Square Garden officials about staging Leonard's junior middleweight title fight with champion Terry Norris there on Feb. 9.

"I think Ray has always wanted to fight at least once in the Garden," Trainer said recently.

Leonard's interest in New York put negotiations with Caesars World on hold.

Trainer met yesterday with Bob Gutkowski, president of Madison Square Garden Communications, and boxing official Steve Griffith. Boxing president Bobby Goodman was attending to business outside New York.

A spokesman for Trainer said he was likely to decide today.

Gutkowski told The New York Post: "I believe in Ray's sincerity, and I've had some good conversations with Mike Trainer. I remember Ray saying once at a press conference one of his main regrets was not having fought here. If Caesars gets it, then it happens, but we're giving it our best shot."

Rich Rose, president of Caesars World Sports, also was in New York, waiting to give Trainer "a definitive bid" on the fight today.

"We've talked money several times, but Mike had certain parameters he was still looking into, and we couldn't get down to specific numbers," Rose said. "It's Mike's responsibility to get the best offer out there for Sugar Ray."

Rose has proposed staging the match in the 4,500-seat Caesars Palace Pavilion in Las Vegas or at the 16,000-seat Atlantic City Convention Center.

"If he fights indoors in Las Vegas, it will also have historic significance for Ray," Rose said. "It was at Caesars where he won his first [welterweight] title in 1979 by knocking out Wilfred Benitez."

There could also be more practical reasons for choosing a smaller arena. Norris, who won the World Boxing Council 154-pound crown by knocking out John Mugabi in one round last March, is not well-known outside his hometown of Sacramento, Calif.

The cable network Showtime will carry the Leonard-Norris fight, but it would be unable to black out the New York area if the Garden wins the bidding.

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