Sugar Ray Leonard was made a 4-to-1 favorite today to defeat champion Wilfredo Benitez Friday night for the World Boxing Council version of the welterweight title.
In the other title fight on the card, undisputed world champion Vito Antuofermo of Brooklyn is a 4 1/2-to-1 underdog to Marvin Hagler of Brocton, Mass.
After wrapping up his last sparring session, Leonard said he was not surprised at the odds.
"I accept the odds," he said, "because it means people are recognizing my ability. I think it is a very even fight; I respect Benitex's experience. But I believe that by the sixth or seventh round you'll see a big change. Why? Because I will have gotten in the punches that will change it.
"He has good hand speed and he relies on intimidating an opponent, but that's my game. I don't think he's ever been under the pressure I'll put on him. I'll have to show him what a left jab is all about. There will be a big question mark on his forehead.
"This is the only fight that I have been as cocky and confident for; I'm very keyed up. But everything has to be perfect, and it will be."
Does Leonard have any weakness?
"I don't know of any."
What would Benitez have to do to look good?
"Hit me more than twice; then I'll be surprised."
There was a report that Benitez had walked out of his gymnasium alone and dejected the other day after a blow to the nose that the champion's management feared bad broken it (it had not).
"If it's true that he has an unjured nose," Leonard said today, "I'll aim for his nose."
Benitez occasionally loses his temper in the ring, it was mentioned, and Leonard replied, "If that's true I'll do things to make him lose his poise and then capitalize on it."
Leonard paused to take questions from a group of youngsters who had watched the workout and a girl asked, "Are you going to knock out Benitez?"
"I think I will, if he cooperates."
Manager Angelo Dundee tried to discourage the preoccupation with the odds, but acknowledged, "I'm amazed at them, against a champion.
"We're not looking at the odds," Dundee said, "we're looking at the guy Ray's fighting; he's smart.He was a world junior welterweight champion at age 17. The only thing we got going against him is that he doesn't know how good our guy (Leonard) is. Ray can box, punch, and he is a good body puncher."
Dundee said Leonard boxed today "merely to stay sharp; he's sharp as a tack. See him threading the needle with his punches? That's when you know your guy is ready."