Ken Norton and Jimmy Young, the top contenders for Muhammed Ali's heavyweight championship, meet here Saturday night in a 15-round bout.
The ABC boxing program will begin at 9 p.m. (WJLA-TV-7) and last until 11:30, with the main event following unbeaten junior welterweight Sugar Ray Leonard's eight-round fight against Augustin Estrada and Jerry Quarry's comeback bid against Lorenzo Zanon.
Norton, the No. 1 challenger, is guaranteed $1.7 million and Young $1 million, making this fight the second-richest nontitle bout in history. Ali's second fight against Joe Frazier, a 12-rounder in 1974, brought both fighters about $3 million each.
Norton weight 215 1/2 today; Young 213.
In a news conference following the weight-in Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, said that ALi has 60 days from Saturday to sign an agreement committing him to fight the winner of the Norton-Young fight within six months of that fight.
Sulaiman said his personal opinion was that if Ali failed to commit himself, the winner of the Norton-Young fight would be recognized by the WBC as champion. However, he said, his opinion would have to be supported by the council at its meeting beginning Nov. 29 in Madrid.
But Herbert Muhammad, the champion's manager, said Ali will sign to fight only if Young wins. If Norton wins, Ali will retire after his next fight in February against Leon Spinks of Alfio Righetti.
The rest of the card, including Leonard (49) of Palmer, Park, Md., against Mexican Estrada: Quarry against Zanon of Italy, and Larry Holmes of Scranton, Pa., against Sailor Ibar Arlington of Seattle, will be conducted under Nevada's usual five-point must per round scoring.
The Norton Young bout will be under 10-point must system. There will be three judges to store the fight. The referee will not vote.
Although there were two previous shows here in which the scoring was disclosed after every round over television, that will not be the case on Saturday, on television or in the tennis pavilion of Caesars Palace, where the show is being held.
The American Broadcasting Company did not ask for it, according to Johnny Mangiararacina, chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He said he was opposed to it because of the controversy it caused at the Ali-Earnie Shavers bout in New York, and the managers of Norton and Young did not want it.
It amounts to a "studio bout" with the tennis Pavilion accommodating only about 4,700. It is expected to be "papered" with a lot of complimentary tickets being distributed.
His opponent, 24-year-old Estrado, has a 21-17-2 record, winning 12 by knockouts.
Leonard's bout will open on the televised part of the program, with the Quarry-Zanon bout next and then the main event. The Holmes-Arrington bout will be taped for possible use on the televised segment.