Mike Trainer, Sugar Ray Leonard's lawyer, said today that a welterweight title fight with WBA champion Thomas Hearns is now "very likely" to take place next fall.
"We're a lot closer than we've ever been," said Trainer, as he watched Leonard weigh in for his title fight against Larry Bonds. "You're not going to let us fight Larry Bonds too many times. I think we will be able to work something out."
Trainer met yesterday with Hearns' manager, Emanuel Steward, at the Syracuse airport. Trainer said that Hearns, who has been asking for a $7 million guarantee, and has turned down a $4 million offer, was now receptive to taking a percentage of the gate against a lower guarantee.
"I think, realistically, they understand that in order to make that much money, they've got to be involved in the promotion on a percentage basis," Trainer said. "It's tough to guarantee that huge an amount going in, especially after the last Leonard-Duran fight. But if he's involved with it and it's a home run, he might just get his $7 million."
Trainer said the proposed fight, to be shown on closed circuit, would take place at the end of September, perhaps in Las Vegas. He said he would meet with Steward against within the week. "There will be a closed-circuit fight in the fall," Trainer said. "It may not be Thomas Hearns. It might be Hearns or (Marvin) Hagler, or (Pipino) Cuevas."
But, Trainer, said, right now the Hearns bout is the most likely option and the one he prefers. "It will make the most money," he said. "The last Duran fight set a record and I think this one will top it."
Trainer also met yesterday with Steven Wainwright, the attorney for middleweight champion Marvin Hagler. Hagler, like Bonds and Ayub Kalule, the junior middleweight Leonard will fight in June, is a southpaw. Trainer said that Hagler's demands, which he declined to specify, were "out of line," and as a result that fight likely will not happen in the next year.
Cuevas is currently ranked second by both the WBC and WBA in the welterweight division behind Wilfred Benitez. Trainer believes that "Benitez has taken himself out of the picture by going for the junior middleweight title (against Maurice Hope)" and by turning down an offer to fight Leonard now.
SINE THE WBC rules require that one of Leonard's three title defenses be against the No. 1 contender, Trainer is hoping that Cuevas moves ahead of Benitez in the rankings. "It would kill two birds with one stone," Trainer said.