Middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler would like to make Sugar Ray Leonard his next opponent, Hagler's manager, Pat Petronelli, said yesterday.
"There are some complications," Petronelli said, "but nothing that can't be worked out."
Petronelli was referring to a proposed rematch between Hagler and Thomas Hearns in November. Hagler and Hearns advisers were close to an agreement on that bout last week when Leonard unexpectedly said he would like to come out of retirement and meet Hagler.
"Every guy in the street knows who Marvin would like to meet first -- Leonard," Petronelli said. "He fought Hearns before. The only challenge for him is Leonard."
Hagler remained unavailable for comment, but Petronelli said that Hagler had told him after hearing of Leonard's desire to fight, "Let's see how real it is."
"I've talked to Leonard's adviser Mike Trainer. I believe him," Petronelli said. "I believe him when he says Sugar Ray wants one fight -- win or lose and he gets out."
Trainer and Leonard were unavailable for comment.
There has been speculation that it might be too late in the Hagler-Hearns negotiations to have a Hagler-Leonard bout first. However, Petronelli said that is not the case.
"It's not too late," he said. "We haven't signed anything."
Last year, in one of the most publicized fights in history, Hagler dominated and then knocked out Hearns in three rounds. This March, Hagler raised his record to 62-2-2 by knocking out formerly unbeaten John (The Beast) Mugabi. Few opponents other than Hearns were on Hagler's horizon until Leonard emerged.
Leonard retired Nov. 9, 1982, after learning that he had a partially detached retina of his left eye. With medical approval, he came out of retirement with an unimpressive performance when he recorded a knockout of Kevin Howard on May 11, 1984. That night, he retired again, his record 33-1. The only defeat was by Roberto Duran in 1980, and that loss was avenged by Leonard later that year.
Petronelli said that Hagler had been "surprised" by Leonard's challenge, "but he was pleasantly surprised."
"Two kids want this to happen, Hagler and Leonard," Petronelli added.
Kids they are not: this month, Hagler will be 32 and Leonard 30. Age is part of Hagler's concern about fighting Leonard soon, Petronelli said.
"Marvin's on the verge of getting out. You never know when he's getting out. He'll be 32 years old. His wife isn't all that happy about him fighting.
"This is too big," Petronelli said of a possible Hagler-Leonard bout. "You can't wait until next year. It's too far away."
Where does this leave Hearns?
"He'll be sick over it," Petronelli said. "But he's had his chance. Leonard's never had a chance.
"The wheels are in motion, but it's an awful long pull."
He said it might be several days before "anything solid" developed on Hagler's plans.