Sugar Ray Leonard used today's unofficial weigh-in to blow a kiss and tell Roberto Duran "I love you," two days before their welterweight championship fight here Friday night.
Leonard's show of mock affection was prompted by Duran's shouted chant of "two more days . . . two more days," a warning that time was running out for "le face a face historique" (historic confrontation), as the promotion has been billed.
Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Association, reported Montreal Athletic Commission physician Pierre Fouret as saying, "Both fighters are in perfect condition."
Duran flouted today's meaningless weigh-in (the official one will be on Friday) by mounting the scales wearing blue jeans and desert boots, stripped only to the waist.
His weight was announced as 153.9 poungs, 6.9 over the welterweight limit. He donned T-shirt, leater jacket, and woolen hat worn in rainy, chilly weather and say impatiently behind a metal barricade for the arrival of Leonard.
When the champion arrived in a red warmup suit, he had to face in Duran's general direction to look at the indicator on the scales. Duran tried to engage the champion's gaze, but Leonard did not accommodate him. The champion stripped to T-shirt and rayon trunks, and stepped on the scales barefooted, weighing 147.
From the lobby floor and four galleries adjacent to the Meridian Hotel, the eyes of several hundred spectators were waiting for the reacton of Duran, when he finally began shouting in English, "Two more days . . . two more days," holding two fingers aloft.
Leonard appeared to blunt the thrust of Duran's animosity of mockery, blowing a kiss to the challenger and shouting, "I love you."
But such a gesture to a Hispanic can be construed as a slur on his "machismo," or manhood, according to the challenger's interpreter, Luis Henriquez, and Duran lunged toward Leonard, undeterred by the steel barricade, before being restrained by bystanders.
As Leonard continued his exit from the ring, accompanied by his entourage, Duran shouted in Spanish, "Those big guys ain't going to help you Friday night," according to Leonard's chief second, Angelo Dundee, who speaks Spanish.
Oldtimers at the weigh-in ceremony recalled that Benny Paret aroused the wrath of Emile Griffith by patting the latter on the rump and referring to him as a homosexual in so-called "gutter Spanish." Paret was badly beaten in their bout and he died a few days later.
Leonard said he was finished training except for roadwork on Thursday and Friday mornings. Duran surprised the media by going to the Paul Suave sports center and boxing.
Ray Arcel, Duran's trainer, said the challenger was boxin today because he didn't Tuesday, and not because he was having trouble making the 147-pound limit.
"He stripped entirely and weighed only 148 on our scales when he got back from the hotel; his weight is no problem," Arcel said. "He got weighed with all of his street clothes on our scales before he went to the hotel weigh-in. He got weighed there with all of his street clothes on. We wanted to know if the two scales were in a balance or what any difference might be.
"It didn't matter what he weighed in the lobby without his jacket and hat on; that was 'unofficial' anyhow."
There was speculation that Duran might have put some weight in his jeans for the trip on the scale when he stripped to the waist, perhaps to con Leonard's camp into thinking he might be weak from taking off the necessary poundage in the two days before the official weigh-in.
Arcel said Duran would spar for only two rounds today. "He'd stay in the ring all day if I'd let him," the trainer said. "He loves training and fighting. He's a gladiator. He loves combat."
Asked to account for Duran being poorly conditioned and unimpressive in previous bouts since abdicating the lightweight championship, Arcel said, "An athlete's got to have incentive. When he was the lightweight champion he was the cook of the walk, and had pride in the title."
"When he went into the 147-pound class nobody wanted to fight him; he had to take bouts against lesser opponents to make money and keep active. They could not inspire him; he couldn't work himself up for preliminary fights under other headliners. This is different."
Arcel was asked what he would advise Leonard to do if he were training Leonard to fight Duran, instead of the other way around.
"What else can Ray do than what he does? He's a good boxer; he's not going to stand still and slug with Roberto," Arcel said, suggesting that would be like putting a deer's neck in a lion's mouth.
Wilfred Benitez showed up at the "unofficial" weigh-in and said he was picking Leonard, who beat him for the WBC welterweight title, "because then Leonard will give me a shot at the championship on Sept. 23.
"Leonard knows how to box; he had to be a great fighter to knock me out. I am the only one who could beat Leonard. Duran was great at 135 pounds, but he's finding the welterweights to be taller and fatter. I could knock out Duran in four rounds."
Leonard was reluctant, for a change, to talk. But Dundee was telling everone, "He's sky high."
Since Duran has a beard, there was a question about it at the rules-review meeting. It was announced that a boxer's beard could not be thick enough to amount to a cushion or so dense it possibly could cut an opponent.
There will be a 20-foot ring for Friday's bout, which is thought to favor Duran, the puncher, crowder and fighter who likes to cut off an opponent's latitude of movement.
But Arcel is concerned with the WBC's selection of a referee. He feels the style of veteran Carlos Padilla of the Philippines, who is expected to be chosen for the bout, would hamper Duran since Padilla is quick to separate fighters, rather than allow the in-fighting that Duran thrives on. Duran's camp favors another veteran, Arthur Mercante, to referee the fight.
Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., which is handling the closed circuit television, said that 32,100 seats have been sold for the "live" event in Olympic Stadium, configured to seat 77,000.
Previously it was announced that a crowd of 41,000 was necessary for the Montreal agency promoting the bout to break even. But an agency official said there have been 5,000 reservations received for more seats.
"We'll be happy with 55,000 or 60,000," he said.
Arum said Top Rank now has nearly 400 locations selling seats for the telecast, representing 1,750,000 to 1,800,000 seats and still increasing as the demand grows.
Arum also indicated Leonard would earn no less than $8 million for the fight, with Duran earning $1.5 million.