Suspense sagged today in the buildup for "Le face a face historique" (historic confrontation) when Sugar Ray Leonard confronted only his shadow at Paul Sauve Centre and Roberto Duran took the day off.
There was heightening curiosity about welterweight champion Leonard's conditoning, because he had been reported as weighing three pounds under the 147-pound limit the other day, when he disappointed Los Angeles sportswriters by calling off a telephone interview.
Then he took off from working in the ring Friday and Saturday and only shadow boxed today. As if conscious about the weight question, Leonard called attention to the indicator when he stepped on the scales after his workout, and the media saw that he was 149 1/2 pounds.
Trainer Dave Jacobs explained that Leonard took off the two days because "he didn't want to peak too soon." Leonard will spar for the last time Monday and suggested today's weight was proof that he still has poundage to spare while getting down to the division limit.
The champion said, "I'm right on schedule, I'm ready, and what's more important, I'm in the right frame of mind."
A television interviewer tried to lure the champion into something more apocalyptic than repeating, "It's going to be a dynamite fight."
"In the eyes of the Europeans," the interviewer for West German television said, "this is more than just a 'dynamite fight,' it's a happening."
The German recalled Leonard's quotation about intending to "kill" Duran, but once more Leonard insisted it was just part of the ballyhoo for the promotion.
The interviewer asked, "There is more than the usual animosity between you to, isn't there?" and the champion said, straight-faced, "Not on my part."
Members of Leonard's entourage said he quickly reoriented himself to the French culture here, where he won his Olympic gold medal in 1976. A reference was made to the training interfering with his tap dancing lessons and he broke into a smile for the first time saying, "I'll catch up when I get home."
He gets up at 6 a.m. to do roadwork at Mount Royal, but he has been out to restaurants in the evenings for lobster and spare ribs.
He will box Monday for the last time and merely shake out after that.
Duran took off Saturday and today and that recalled his breaking training two weeks ago for a trip to New York city to have a chronic back ailment examined.
He has worked hard since, battering sparring partners and indicating that he doesn't have a serious problem.
His layoffs the last two days were reminders that he will be 29 years old on Monday. He is going to celebrate by boxing at the Hotel Merician, fight headquarters, rather than at the Paul Sauve Centre.
His management reported that he rested for the last two days, except for roadwork, only because he was reaching too fine an edge in conditioning.