Sugar Ray Leonard's attorney said yesterday that Roberto Duran has been offered five times more than he has earned in his career to defend his World Boxing Council welterweight championship in a rematch with Leonard.
Mike Trainer added that seven contracts had been agreed upon in the "very involved deal," and he was prepared to go to New York City last Tuesday to sign. But Monday night he received a telephone call notifying him the deal was off unless Don King was designated the promoter.
Is the bout off? "Well, it's not on," Trainer said.
But late last night, Duran's manager in Panama City said on local television that the on again, off again bout is on again for Nov. 25.
Carlos Eleta said he spoke by telephone with promoter King and said King told him "everything is fixed."
Eleta refused to comment on reports Thursday that the fight was off, saying he wanted first to talk to King. In the television interview, Eleta said King told him "all misunderstandings have disappeared."
The manager said Duran should be paid about $10 million for the fight and would only say Leondard will take home less.
Trainer could not be reached for comment on Eleta's statement. Earlier in the day, Trainer said a Nov. 25 bout was still feasible, "if Duran's people change their minds today (Thursday) or tomorrow. We can't go much longer or we will lose possible sites for the fight and for closed circuit telecasts.We have put a lot of buildings on 'hold'. We have to explore; we must have a million to a million and a half seats available on the particular date. How long can we hold, say, Capital Centre for any 'iffy' proposition?"
Trainer said he engaged an investors' group that raised enough money to buy "most sports franchises" in order to satisfy the purse demands of Duran and Leonard. "But for that kind of money they want to run the promotion. I don't know if they want to deal with King," he said.
Trainer went on to say that King can't afford to put on the bout himself, but doesn't want anyone else to. Trainer said, "He's afraid it would diminish his stature if he were not out front as the promoter."
The attorney said that if the rematch doesn't come off, "as far as we're concerned Ray will take the high road and let the powers that be -- the sanctioning body (WBC), the promoters, the agents, do what they will. Ray will stay in shape, do other things he had to put off, and put a bout against Duran on the back burner... pursue several business things.
"Eventually, they've got to come back to Ray. He's the attraction. If the other welterweights want to fight each other, fine. We'll see who's the king of the mountain, and we'll fight the winner, if they think Duran can make more money elsewhere. Apparently, a Leonard-Duran bout is going to require pressure from Panama, where he (Duran) is a national treasure, and from the public. Ray will get the money back down the road. Duran won't."
Trainer said he met with King, who has promoted most of Duran's bouts, and a representative of Eleta in Las Vegas early last month to determine what they wanted. "I indicated to King that I had people ready to satisfy them and Ray," Trainer said. "I met again with them about 10 days to two weeks ago and I thought we had an agreement.
"I got a call on Monday night from King's lawyer. He indicated that the deal was fine but that King was upset because he wasn't out front as the promoter and therefore the deal was off. I called Duran's manager (Eleta) and he said he was satisfied with the deal but he quoted King as saying I hadn't raised the money. I told Eleta I not only had raised the money but was willing to fly to Panama the next day to convince him.
"He suggested that I call King. I did the next day, Tuesday, and King told me Eleta wanted him (King) to be the promoter and that Eleta had asked King to call Trainer and tell him that.
"King then made an offer to Sugar Ray that was less than what everybody in the package was getting. King had thought I couldn't put together the deal that I did and convinced Eleta I couldn't. Eleta is embarrassed.
King was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Trainer was asked why he needed investors for the rematch in contrast to the fist Leonard-Duran bout.
"Ray was in position the first time to pay Duran's purse as challenger (about $1.65 million) by retaining the right to sell the 'live' gate and the rights to the delayed network telecase of the fight. The whole bout will cost more this time.
"Duran does not like percentage deals; he wants a flat guarantee. The investors are guaranteeing Duran his purse. Ray made the big money the last time because he rolled the dice; he took a gamble on percentages. Muhammad Ali would have made more money in his bouts if he had worked on percentages, but he never would."
Trainer said he already had arranged for the sale of the tape of the second Leonard-Duran bout to a network for more money than the first bout brought ($500,000). "I wouldn't have done that if I had not thought the rematch was all set. Nobody has ever called me stupid."