Wilfred Benitez, the former welterweight champion, caused quite a stir during Roberto Duran's postfight press conference Friday night.

"I just told Roberto, give me a chance (for a fight), give me a chance," Benitez said. "He (Duran) said, 'Get out; I'll kill you.' I said to him, 'Let's do it right now, right here.'

"Duran is dead. He is afraid of me. He knows me. He knows Wilfred. When somebody talks about me to Duran, Roberto tells them don't talk to me about Benitez. I am afraid of him."

Washington public relations man Charlie Brotman helped set off a minor melee at ringside immediately after the judges' decision was announced.

Brotman, who works for the Leonard camp, found himself trapped near the ring by a mob of people. He also found a hand -- not his own -- reaching for his money clip.

"I saw this hand, and I yelled at this kid," Brotman said. "I do that, and all the people in the Leonard camp in the ring go after this kid. He's jumping around, they're jumping around, and I walked away. Then I reached down and I find my money's still in the pocket."

Celebrity-watchers could have taken fight night off, though Bill Murray of Saturday Night Live, Magic Johnson, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin were spotted in the crowd.

Worst prediction of the day came from Angelo Dundee, Leonard's chief corner man, shortly after Friday's weigh-in. "He's gonna put a hurt on Duran. He knows what he can do to this guy. Remember that, I said four."

More than 1,000 Panamanians made the trip north to see their favorite fighter, and most of the stadium crowd was clearly pro-Duran for most of the night. It didn't hurt that Duran handlers unfurled a Quebec flag in ring minutes before the opening bell.

Joe Frazier occupied a seat in the second row of the press section and when someone suggested that he could do a lot worse than return to the middle heavyweight scene, Frazier said, "I'm very happy to be on this side of the ring from now on."

More than 600 media credentials were handed out for the fight, and Panama sent a large contingent of journalists and broadcasters. Large, and stubborn. s

An hour before the main event, several security guards had to escort one Panamanian photographer from the seat he insisted on occupying at ringside, a chair that belonged to someone else.

"He's not the first one we've had to get out of here," one guard said. "They just keep telling us that in Panama it's first come, first served. He was there first, so it's his seat. I think he's gonna watch on televesion.