Unheralded Bruce Finch's only apparent hope of upsetting Sugar Ray Leonard in Monday night's world welterweight title fight here is catching the champion unprepared or overconfident.
Leonard insists that can't happen because, regardless of his opponent, he can't afford a letdown. He has too much to lose.
"I like being champion," Leonard said this morning before his light workout at Harrah's hotel. "I like doing commercials, I like doing talk shows. I'm not going to let anybody take all this away from me."
Leonard's life outside the ring is much more complex, much more hectic, much more challenging than his vocation. Since coming back to knock out Tommy Hearns in the 14th round of their title fight Sept. 16 in Las Vegas, the champion hasn't spent more than four days in a row at his new home in Mitchellville, Md.
"His calendar would blow your mind," said Mike Trainer, the Washington-based attorney who handles Leonard's business affairs. "People may think he's sitting out on his patio drinking beer, but he's not, believe me.
"After the Hearns fight, Ray took one week off before he started in on all his commitments. He's a very active guy. He's always flying somewhere for something."
Among Leonard's most visible activities in recent months have been a guest spot on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show and an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated after being chosen its Sportsman of the Year. That was a snap compared to the television filming he's been involved in, mostly in Los Angeles.
"The people in Washington don't see it, but Ray is working all the time," Trainer said. "He's like a politician. Everywhere he goes, there are press conferences at the airport, at the hotels. He is in such demand that I'd say we turn down nine of every 10 offers he gets. His schedule would astound you.
"Right now his big project is being the host and commentator on a Golden Gloves show," Trainer said. "It's a series of team matches between, say, West Virginia and New York, or Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with the winning team advancing in a tournament format.
"Ray had to go to New York for the presentation and he's the reason the show sold. He went up there and charmed the people and they went nuts. Of the 54 pilots presented, this was one of nine that was sold. It's syndicated for 22 weeks and also will go to 15 foreign countries."
In addition to hosting the matches, many of which were filmed last summer and which are seen in Washington at 11 a.m. Sundays on WRC-TV-4, Leonard now has to go back to Los Angeles each time the fights are edited to fit the 30-minute format and do voice-overs between the rounds.
Trainer shrugged off the Tonight Show appearance, saying that Leonard has a standing invitation to appear on several of the talk shows whenever he's available.
"It got kind of embarrassing, saying he couldn't make it all the time," Trainer said. "So now we've left it that whenever we're in town and have the time, we call the shows and say that Ray's available."
Leonard admits that he enjoys those talk show appearances and it is obvious to anyone who has watched him. He's as comfortable in the plastic world of Hollywood as he is skipping rope in a workout room.
His professional and appealing performances as a fight commentator and salability in commercials has put Leonard in great demand for additional television work.
There is a children's show that he may host and appearances on Good Morning America, in addition to his sports commentary for CBS and Home Box Office, plus more commercial offers than he possibly can handle.
"We've talked about a made-for-TV movie," said Trainer. "It's a nice story and Ray would be terrific. It would open up a whole new avenue for him, but, to be honest, he simply can't find six months to do it. I don't know if we'll ever have six free months to devote to it."
The reason that Leonard's schedule is tighter than the tape around his million-dollar fists at fight time is that his first love, his No. 1 priority, still is boxing.
"I like the sport," he said when asked why he is fighting again so soon after the punishment he absorbed in the Hearns battle.
"Boxing is a part of me," he said. "I get emotionally involved and I enjoy it. Until I lose something I need, such as desire or determination, I'm going to stay active.
"Right now I'm on a fight-to-fight schedule. Hopefully, I'll have three, maybe four this year," he said. His next fight tentatively is scheduled for May or June against Roger Stafford in the Meadowlands.
Asked about the tedious hours of road work, punching bags, jumping rope and sparring, Leonard's face split into that now universally familiar grin.
"Hey, all jobs get old," he said. "Yours, mine, everyone's. Once in a while I get a touch of boredom. But that's where my family helps me out a great deal. With the wife and son here and other members of my family, the lonely hours are a lot easier."
Some are questioning his motives for fighting Finch, a relatively unknown former club fighter from Milwaukee. Even in this gambling-obsessed town, there is no betting line on the bout. (Jimmy the Greek Snyder lists Leonard a 20-to-1 favorite.) The only wagering here is pick 'em whether the fight will go eight rounds. Even that action has been light, according to local bookmakers.
Asked what he can gain by defeating Finch, Leonard smiled again and said, "Another win. It looks good on the resume.
"Boxing is my profession," he said. "I owe the public a certain level of performance. I owe it to myself. That's why I've trained as hard for this fight as I did for (Roberto) Duran or Hearns."