The long-awaited Sugar Ray Leoanrd-Thomas Hearns welterweight championship fight probably will take place Sept. 16.

Fight Promoter Shelly Finkle said last night, "As of this point it is the best date available but nothing has been signed."

Finkle denied reports in the Detroit Free Press Sunday that he had already begun selling closed circuit rights for that date. "I can't sell something I don't have a contract for," Finkle said.

Mike Trainer, Leonard's lawyer, said, "It is a realistic date but it can't be firm because we have no deal yet."

Trainer said that while Hearns had signed his contract, for approximately $5 million, Leoanrd hasn't signed yet. "I don't anticipate any problems," Trainer said. "We hope to sign within a week or so."

Trainer said Sept. 16 "may be the best closed-circuit date available, but we can't do too much without two signed contracts and we don't have two signed contracts."

Finkle said that Las Vegas and Houston, the latter the site of Leonard's June 25 junior-middleweight title bout with Ayub Kalule, are the most likely sites for the fight. The Sept. 16 date is good, Finkle said, because, "I don't want to go into October with the World Series. I'd prefer a Friday but the one date most available now is the 16th (a Wednesday)."

Bob Arum, head of Trop Rank Inc., told the Free Press, "It's signed and all set. But we probably won't announce it for another six weeks. We can bleed a lot of publicity for it during that time."

Finkle said, "He may have said that but he's wrong."

Trainer said, "He (Arum) spilled it out. He really had no reason to do it. He is not really involved in it."