Paul Anka still has the top billing at Caesars Palace, workmen still are putting the finishing touches on the enlarged grandstand covering the tennis courts adjacent to the posh casino and pro football still is getting the bulk of the action in the betting parlors.
The long-awaited Sugar Ray Leonard-Tommy Hearns welterweight title fight is a week away and certainly was not the major topic of conversation here -- until today.
In an eerie twist that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud, Dave (Jake) Jacobs, the man who put the first pair of boxing gloves on Leonard, the trainer who guided and nursed the young fighter through his formative years, the person most responsible for Leonard winning the gold medal in the l976 Olympics, showed up in the enemy camp.
That's right. In a town where longshots are legends, now there's another one that people will talk about long after this fight is history. Jacobs nonchalantly walked into the workout area around 2 o'clock today and when someone casually asked him what he was doing, he tried to keep a straight face and replied, "Working for Hearns."
"I'm thrilled to be here," Jacobs said when asked how he felt to be part of the team that is trying to knock Leonard off the 7-Up commercials forever. "I've worked with Tommy before and I know a lot of people here."
After developing Leonard from a skinny, often gawky 14-year-old from Palmer Park, Md., into the richest fighter in boxing today, Jacobs was unceremoniously dumped between Roberto Duran fights. His close, longstanding relationship was sharply severed.
There was a disagreement over preparations for the second Duran fight. Jacobs wanted a tune-up. Manager Mike Trainer did not. Also, once Leonard's purses reached almost national debt proportions, the trainer was told he wouldn't receive his usual 10 percent of the take.
"All that's water under the bridge now and I'd rather not talk about it," Jacobs said while holding a stopwatch and timing some fighters working with heavy bags.
"A lot of things happened, but it's over now," he continued. "I try not to think about it. I couldn't work for Leonard, so here I am. And if I'm in Tommy Hearns' camp, that means I'm working for Tommy Hearns."
And that means that he wants to see Leonard flat on his back, unconscious, by the end of the first round, right?
"This is a fight I never wanted to come about," Jacobs admitted. "I never wanted to see either Ray or Tommy get beat. But one of the things I have to realize now is that it's big business.
"If Ray is counted out, I'd be the first one to pick him up."
"I'm pretty sure, in Ray's mind, that we're still pretty close," Jacobs said when asked his true feelings toward Leonard. "You just don't throw that type of closeness away after all those years. If I didn't know Tommy so well, I would never work against Ray.
"If Ray asked me to come back, I would. That's just the way I feel about it. But if I had to do it all over again with Ray, I would do everything the same."
Jacobs worked with Hearns when the fighter was an amateur, but his present association had its roots in Washington. When Hearns came to Capital Centre for a promotional workout about a month ago, then went to Oakcrest Recreation Center for additional work, Jacobs brought over two former sparring partners of Leonard's, Odell Leonard and Lloyd Taylor. He recommended both of them to Hearns' trainer, Emanuel Steward, and both are working here with Hearns.
So now, in addition to providing two former sparring partners who know Leonard so well, Jacobs has been recruited to help plot the demise of Sugar Ray.
"I know Ray as well as anybody," Jacobs said. "Fighters don't change that much. There are certain things a fighter does, certain moves he makes that only a trainer knows. But, so far, they haven't asked me how to fight Ray."
Jacobs, of course, arrived just today and if he doesn't think he's going to be grilled on every tactic, every meal, every twitch that Leonard ever made, he's never seen a James Bond movie or read a John LeCarre' book.
"They haven't asked me to work the corner yet," Jacobs said. "But, of course, if they do, I will. I'm obligated now to answer any question and help out the best I can."