Sugar Ray Leonard will celebrate his new world welterweight ranking by taking on a higher-ranked opponent in a 10-round bout Friday night at the Baltimore Civic Center.

Los Angeles observers say Randy Shields of North Hollywood. Calif., is a tricky, busy, swarming fighter with good moves. Shields reportedly takes a good punch. Though he is not a knock-out specialist, he has finished off 16 opponents.

He has a tendency to cut, and probably for that reason has learned to tie opponents up inside. Shields had been boxing as a lightweight but had trouble making 135 pounds.

He has a 31-4-1 record and like Leonard, had a lot of amateur experience. He decisioned Leonard for the Amateur Athletic Union lightweight championship in Boston May 5, 1973.

Both are 22 years old.

Shields was born in Washington, D.C., but his family moved to California when he was 4 years old.

He was ranked No. 3 contender by Ring magazine before former junior weltherweight champion Wilfredo Benitez stopped him in seven in August. Now he is No. 4.

Ring magazine and the World Boxing Council recognizes Carlos Palomino of Mexico as welterweight champion. The World Boxing Association recognizes Jose Cuevas of Mexico.

Ring ranked Leonard No. 8 contender after he stopped Floyd Mayweather in the ninth round Sept. 9 to remain unbeaten through 14 bouts. Mayweather had been rated fifth.

Shields has lost four of his last eight bouts. Besides Benitez's TKO, Vicente Saldivar of Mexico decisioned him, then kayoed him, and Pate Ranzany of Sacramento beat him on a cut eye.