Sugar Ray Leonard said last night that he wants another fight with Roberto Duran and has no intention of retiring.
"Roberto Duran has something that belongs to me," said Leonard. "I want it back."
He was referring to the World Boxing Council welterweight championship that the Panamanian was awarded by unanamous decision after 15 rounds last week in Montreal.
At the end of the hour-long interview with sportscaster George Michael on WRC-TV-4, Leonard said, "It's my pride. I've got to get it back."
Already, Leonard was sending a message to Duran. When he was asked if he would box Duran the same way next time, Leonard said, "Yes, I'd basically fight him flat-footed, but I would counterpunch and move, instead of going to him."
Leonard was candid about an overhand right with which Duran hit him in the second round: "He hit me so hard he made me think about my career. I didn't clear my head until the fourth round. I hoped I knew he would come to me to try to take me out. I hoped he would punch himself out trying but it was too early in the fight.
"I hurt him several times, too. He said I didn't but I heard him grunt a couple of times when I hit him. The referee paused quite a while one time to look at Duran after I hit him a good shot."
The former champion made a disclosure about an exchange of punches in the turbulent 15th round that may be overlooked when the bout is seen on home televsion July 19.
"In the last round," Leonard recalled, "I decided to go toe-to-toe with him and he had the same feeling. The two of us started punches at the same time and we both missed by just about an inch. If we had landed, we would have knocked each other out."
As for his widely citicized strategy, Leonard said, "I anticipated him to come to me but he did not expect me to come to him. Some people thought it was a foolish tactic, but I wanted to take the fight to him and beat him at his own game. I was still fighting flatfooted in the 14th round.
"I looked at his age (29), the trouble he had had in the past losing weight -- he had gone up to 165 once -- I wanted to wear him down. I thought I could do it by the 10th or 11th round and then offset what he did in the later rounds.
"I knew he was going to fight me, not box.It became a war. It almost got out of hand. It was like a street fight.
"It never dawned on me that I might be losing. In the 10th and 11th rounds, I said to myself, 'Hey, I've got it.' I figured all I needed was to win the last two rounds . . . I thought the last round was the deciding factor so I poured it on."
Leonard explained why Duran hit him with the back of his glove as the fight ended: "I knew I had won the fight; he was upset. My brother had gone over to him and said, 'You lost . . . you lost,' and one of Duran's handlers hit my brother."
Leonard said that he lay down for a while after the bout before going to a news conference.
He acknowledged that Duran might have dictated part of the early fight because, "He said before the fight that I was going to run. I said to myself, 'I'm going to fight flatfooted.' People were surprised that I could take a big punch. I had no alternative."
Once more during the interview Leonard was asked if he would change his tactics the next time, and he said: "No, I thought I fought the way I could beat him."
Mike Trainer, attorney for Leonard, said yesterday that the crowd of nearly 48,000 at Olympic Stadium produced a "live" gate of $5 million. He said expenses were $5.1 million but that the Montreal government agency that underwrote the bout was "happy, because you can't buy advertising like the city got."
Trainer said the city will receive $500,000 in taxes "so, in effect, Montreal is paying itself from the taxes." He expects to have a complete financial breakdown on the Montreal end of the business by Wednesday, and is going to New York City the same day for a final report on closed-circuit television ticket sales.