When Johnny Gant was interviewed on a television news show before Sugar Ray Leonard totally outboxed Armando Muniz, Gant said Leonard was not yet in his class.

The Washington Boxer reiterated the point Friday.

"I still don't think he's in my class," Gant said. "In experience, ability and a lot of other ways. I know I am the best he's faced so far. I feel I will be able to knock him out. I'm giving him true facts and he's got to deal with it. I'm not trying to psych him out, just giving him the true facts."

The issue should be resolved when the two square off in a 12-round bout at Capital Centre Thursday, Jan. 11, in what is billed as the Mid-Atlantic welterweight championship.

Both began training Tuesday; Leonard at Oakcrest in Capitol Heights, Md., near his Palmer Park home, and Gant at Finley's Gym in Washington.

The smooth Gant, 29, has accumulated a record of 44 wins (25 by knockout), 11 losses and three draws.

The question is: can Gant, with an advantage in reach, cope with the swarming, blurring speed of 22-year-old Leonard, who has made 17 opponents look silly, knocking out 10.

Or will Leonard's lack of experience - he has been brought along slowly, facing supposedly stronger foes each fight-undo him?

Leonard's trainer, Dave Jacobs, after watching Gant stop Sammy Ruckard in the final round of his last fight, said his man could handle Gant's hand speed.

"I think Ray will take Gant out in the seventh or eight round," Jacobs said.

Ring Magazine ranks Leonard third, Gant fourth.

Two other members of the Leonard family are on the card.

His brother, Sweet Roger Leonard, and his cousing, Odell, will fight in the preliminaries.

Roger Leonard, a junior middleweight, wil take on Mario Maldonaldo of Vineland, N.J., in a six rounder. Odell Leonard faces Irish Teddy Mann of Baltimore in a six round middleweight bout.

In other preliminaries, Featherweight Derrick Holmes of New Carroliton fights Tony Hernandez of Vineland, N.J.,; Welterweight Warren Fortune of Palmer Park meets Italian Joe Taberi of Baltimore; welterweight Steve (Butterfly) Hughes of Oakcrest, md is against Tim (Blue) Walker of Washington and heavyweight Malik Dozier of Bowie goes against Indian Chief Quinnie Locklear of Baltimore.

In all, 48 rounds of boxing are scheduled.

Tickets, still available, are priced at $30 (ringside), $20, $10 and $7.50.