The ABC television network said yesterday it would like to show the tape of the entire Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard fight before July 19, but cannot get permission.
Jim Spence, senior vice president of ABC Sports, said the network was hopeful of expanding its "Wide World of Sports" program, shown each Saturday, to show Duran-Leonard on free television, along with the "live" middleweight championship bout from London between titleholder Alan Minter and Vito Antuofermo.
Spence said that Mike Trainer, attorney for Leonard, refused permission because Trainer feels obligated to the people who paid to see Friday night's bout from Montreal on closed-circuit television.
Trainer was not reachable yesterday for comment.
Spence would not confirm or deny that ABC paid $500,000 for the right to show Duran-Leonard on July 19, as reported in Montreal.
Spence was asked if ABC would be willing to pay more to move up the date. "Money is not an issue," Spence said. "It is out of our hands."
But would ABC be willing to pay more?
"We'd consider it, if it came to that," Spence said. "The property (the tape) has tremendous valve. The decision as to the winner was not that highly controversial but the bout was highly interesting. Obviously, we'd prefer to show it earlier.
"We even entertained the idea of showing the fight in prime evening time, but it will be very valuable on our afternoon 'Wide World of Sports' program, too."
Spence said that Charles Lavery, vice president in charge of programming for ABC, had talked to Trainer about moving up the showing of the tape, before and after Friday's bout.
Spence said Trainer is concerned about the legal rights of people who bought closed-circuit telecast tickets, as well as the ethical issue.
Spence said the network was not permitted by its contract with Trainer to even acknowledge that the tape would be shown on July 19 until the day after the fight in Montreal.
There is an irony in this issue between the pay-as-you-go fans and those accustomed to seeing big fights free on conventional television.
Preliminary estimates were that fewerthan 2 million fans saw the bout on closed-circuit television. In contrast to the tens of millions who usually see important sports events on free, or home, television.
Leonard reportedly will receive between $8.5 million and $12 million from a combination of the live gate, closed-circuit television and foreign rights to conventional television; Duran $1.65 million.