Promoter Bob Arum, in town to hype the Sugar Ray Leonard-Ayub Kalule junior middle-weight bout at the Houston Astrodome June 25, used a novel approach: He predicted Leonard will lose.
"I'm somewhat sorry this Leonard-Kalule fight is taking place," Arum said solemnly. "I think it'll go down as one of the biggest blunders in boxing history. . . I don't think Ray can win this fight."
But he's not betting any money on it.
The fight, billed as the "Welterweight Astorwars," will feature a quartet of former and current welterweight champions before a live and closed-circuit audience expected to exceed 500,000.
Already 1,000 seats have been sold at Capital Centre and 700 at the Baltimore Civic Center. Some 3,000 Astrodome field seats are selling for $300 each, and include a party and open bar. Other prices range from $20-$60.
In addition to Leonard-Kalule, the card will match World Boxing Association champ Thomas Hearns, the 22-year-old Detroit "Hit Man," against challenger Pablo Baez and former WBA champion Jose (Pipino) Cuevas versus European champion Jorden Hansen.
Arum said Leonard's plans to move up a weight class against Kalule, the WBA junior middleweight champ, will be Leonard's undoing.
Kalule, a 27-year-old Ugandan, is a quick, strong puncher, Arum said. He is 36-0 with 18 knockouts.
Leonard, 25, the World Boxing Council's welterweight champion, is 29-1 with 20 knockouts.
Why is Arum promoting the bout?
"I was forced into the fight," he said. "Mike Trainer (Leonard's advisor) told me if I wanted to promote Ray's next fight, I had to get him Kalule."