Mike Trainer, Sugar Ray Leonard's attorney, denied yesterday a United Press International report that Leonard and World Boxing Association champion Tommy Hearns have signed for a welterweight championship bout this fall, but did say, "I think we are closer to it than we ever have been before."
According to UPI, Leonard, 29-1 and the World Boxing Council champion, and Hearns, 30-0 with 28 knockouts, will meet for the unified title in late September or early October. No site has been set but the leading cities under consideration are Houston, New Orleans and Las Vegas.
UPI also reported that Leonard, of Palmer Park, will receive a guaranteed purse of $10 million, plus a share of the ancillary rights. Hearns, of Detroit, will get $5 million plus a percentage of the rights. The fight, to be shown on closed-circuit television, could surpass the record $30 million gross of last November when Leonard regained his title by defeating Roberto Duran in New Orleans.
"They are very close on the numbers, but we have not signed any contract yet," said Trainer, who met last week in Syracuse with Emmanuel Steward, who handles Hearn's business matters. Trainer also said that the fight, if it comes off, will be promoted by a new group called "Championship Events." The group includes rock promoter Shelly Finkel -- who has put on concerts for such stars as Billy Joel and Olivia Newton-John -- and Dan Duva, who runs a successful fight program in Totowa, N.J.
Trainer said he also met with Steward in Washington Wednesday. "We had a nice, pleasant conversation, and we discussed some theories on how his fellow would be compensated," Trainer said yesterday, adding that Steward took back a contract for Hearns to look over. "He went back to Detroit to discuss it, but he has not signed anything, and I know Ray hasn't signed anything."
Trainer said he would be going to New York Monday for another meeting with Steward and Finkel, and, "I think we are very close. But I won't believe anything until I see that the contract is signed. I believe I'll see that on Monday, but you never know.
"What concerns me is that Tommy Hearns seems more concerned about what Ray is making than he is about what he's making. Maybe he'll pull out. You just never know in these things."