Goody Petronelli, trainer for middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler, said yesterday a Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard fight was "a reality" and that the two would meet this year.
"It's a reality, no question about it," Petronelli said. "It will come off, title or not. It possibly can be the fight of the century. It's going to happen this fall. Leonard is not going to wait."
On Wednesday, irritated that he had not heard from Hagler since issuing a challenge to the middleweight champion May 1, Leonard said he believed Hagler was going to name Tommy Hearns as his next opponent. Leonard said, "I'm not going to wait that much longer," and added that he would not wait around to fight Hagler in 1987.
Petronelli's remarks, quoted by United Press International in Los Angeles, surprised Leonard.
"I hope like hell it's true," said Leonard. "We've yet to hear anything from Hagler or his people. The way we left it, we had to hear from them to get the ball rolling. It's inexplicable. It's screwy."
Neither Hagler nor his manager, Pat Petronelli, could be reached yesterday.
Reached last night in Reno, Nev., Goody Petronelli softened his earlier remarks, saying it was merely his "opinion" that Hagler and Leonard would meet. "It is a possibility," he said. "My opinion is one thing. Marvin's word goes, and we're still waiting for Marvin's word."
According to Leonard's adviser, Mike Trainer, Pat Petronelli called Trainer shortly after Leonard said he wanted to fight Hagler.
But, says Trainer, Petronelli hasn't called back to begin working out plans for a Hagler-Leonard bout.
Hearns, in Los Angeles at a news conference to promote a June 23 Las Vegas triple-header in which he is taking part, said of Petronelli's statement, "To be honest, I'm not too happy about it. I've worked myself into position to go at it Hagler's title again. I'm very upset about it."