Sugar Ray Leonard will fight Jose (Pipino) Cuevas for the undisputed welterweight championship of the world on Friday, May 16, in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, where Leonard won a gold medal in 1976, if an Expos' baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds that night can be rescheduled.
The capacity for baseball is 60,476, but Leonard's attorney, Michael Trainer, said yesterday he envisions a massive response from fans who saw Cuevas' spectacular one-punch knockout of Harold Volbrecht on television Sunday and Leonard's kayo of David Green a week ago.
Trainer is hopeful that package travel rates from Mexico could be arranged to accommodate Cuevas' adoring fans. The bout will be on the ABC television network in prime time regardless of whether is held in Montreal, Hartford, Conn., or Las Vegas.
Trainer said that if the site is Las Vegas, "the most ever paid for a boxing bout there will be less than half of what we're asking. And that would not be the highest offer we've received, if it goes to Las Vegas."
The attorney said Cuevas would be paid "in excess of $1 million, the same amount we offered (No. 1 contender) Roberto Duran to fight Leonard." Trainer did not disclose Leonard's purse, but he is acknowledged to be a much bigger attraction than Cuevas.
"A Duran bout will fall in place after this bout. It will prove that we odo not need Duran to make this kind of money. In fact, we may not decide where this bout will be held on the basis of where it would make the most money."
The attorney said that New Orleans wanted the bout, but the Superdome was booked on May 16.
"we want some place fair to both fighters; a nice mix to the crowd. Normally, New York City would be it," Trainer said after his return from Cuevas' Sunday fight in Houston. "but Cuevas' manager, Lupe Sanchez, ruled that out because of the large Spanish-speaking element there."
Leonard is the World Boxing Council champion, but Trainer said that body would not sanction a defense of that title before Duran is met.
The attorney said the World Boxing Association will sanction its champion, Cuevas, fighting Leonard before meeting Duran, who is also the WBA's No. 1 contender.
"cuevas sold out the arena in Los Angeles three times against an opponent he knocked out three times, Angel Espada. The fans like Cuevas because he is a straight arrow, in contrast to former heroes who were roughhouse . . . drinkers . . . brawlers. Yet he's awesome . . . tough. He's a big Roberto Duran (who first achieved renown as a lightweight champion). He's awesome.
"if what we've offered Cuevas cannot be considered an 'insult,' Duran will not be able to call it an insult to offer the same amount to him to fight Leonard," Trainer said