While Tommy Hearns continued to flail at his sparring partners today, Sugar Ray Leonard added a dash of suspense to his preparations by shrouding himself in secrecy.
For the first time since arriving here to train for the world welterwight title fight Sept. 16, Leonard closed his workout to the public and press.
"We had a lot of things we had to go over without all the Hearns people watching," explained Manager Angelo Dundee. "We wanted to coordinate our own thoughts on what we will have to do and the results were sensational.
"Now we have more than a dozen answers to Tommy Hearns' aggression," Dundee continued. "Ray will have an answer to whatever Hearns does. Whatever he does, we can counteract."
Later, Leonard said there were no secrets, no surprises, no tricks. He insisted the closed doors were to eliminate the many distractions and that his workouts would be open the rest of the way.
"We just wanted to stress the weak points in Hearns without pointing them out to a lot of people." Leonard said, flashing his familiar smile. "This is nothing new. We did it in New Orleans (before the second Roberto Duran fight) and should have started doing it a long time ago.
"We worked on nullifying his height and his reach," he said of his 6-foot-1 opponent, who has a three-inch height advantage and a four-inch (78-74) edge in reach. "There are things we can do to offset it.
"We also want to neutralize his power," the Palmer Park, Md., fighter added. "The idea is to get inside. Hearns is not as effective inside. He has to reach back for his punches and as a result they're not that powerful."
Leonard's lone defeat came when he tried to go toe-to-toe with Duran in Montreal, when he abandoned his usual dancing style and attacked flatfooted, like a street brawler. He promises he won't make that mistake again.
"I'm going to work inside where I will be the dominant force," he said. "And I won't be a street fighter. I learned my lesson in Montreal. I never got paid to fight in the streets, so I'm going back to the sport of boxing."
This meeting of welterweight champions is shaping up as the classic confrontation between a boxer and a slugger and Leonard isn't doing anything to distort that image.
"I know I can't afford to compete with his right hand," he said, referring to the almost-lethal weapon that has demolished 30 of Hearns' 32 opponents by knockouts. "I've got to stick to my game plan and I'll be more succeessful."
When pressed to reveal, at least, part of his strategy, Leonard was quite cooperative.
"Pacing is important," he said. "I've got to start early, the first round is very important. I know I'm capable of going 15 hard rounds, I've done it against (Wilfred) Benitez and Duran. I don't think Hearns can do it."
Hearns is a knockout specialist. Most observers believe a knockout is on his mind throughout all his fights -- only eight of his victims have survived the fourth round.
Leonard revealed there were three things stressed in the closed workout, three main objectives he must achieve to become the undisputed champion Wednesday night.
"First, I have to dictate the pace in the early rounds," he explained. "If it's going to be a long fight, I want to fight it at my pace, which will be quick.
"Second, I must take control. I can't afford to let him win a few early rounds and gain confidence. Right now, I think I have the psychological advantage and I don't want to lose it.
"Third, I have to get inside and avoid his right hand. I won't run, but I won't be a stationary target out there, either."