Both the Evander Holyfield-George Foreman heavyweight championship bout and Sugar Ray Leonard's next fight seemed yesterday to be headed in the direction of Atlantic City. The two fights will be held early next year.
Donald Trump has topped the bid that would have put Holyfield's first title defense against the 42-year-old Foreman in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, according to the Holyfield camp. Holyfield-Foreman could be held as early as March in Atlantic City's Convention Center.
Leonard's next opponent will be World Boxing Council junior middleweight champion Terry Norris in February. Leonard's lawyer, Michael Trainer, said yesterday that Leonard-Norris may be put on by Caesars in Atlantic City and could take place the first or second weekend in February.
Trump and Holyfield's promoter, Dan Duva, have reached an agreement in principle that would make Atlantic City the site of Holyfield-Foreman. Caesars Palace in Las Vegas had hoped to hold the fight outdoors in April.
"It'll take a couple of days before they iron out all the details," said Holyfield publicist Kathy Duva.
The World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation are expected to sanction it as a title fight, although it remains to be seen if the WBC will stick to its original ruling that Holyfield must first defend against Mike Tyson. "We're fighting the good fight" with the WBC, Kathy Duva said.
Foreman, who was heavyweight champion in 1973-74, retired in 1977 and is undefeated since beginning a comeback in 1987.
Unlike recent Leonard fights, Leonard-Norris will not be a pay-per-view television event but will be seen on cable on Showtime, according to Trainer. The most impressive recent performance by Norris (26-3) was a first-round knockout of John Mugabi in April. Leonard, 34, hasn't fought since he took a unanimous decision over Roberto Duran last December.
Trainer said that Emanuel Steward, who until a recent split was the manager and trainer of Thomas Hearns, "offered to work with Ray during training" for the Norris fight. Trainer said that Steward would like one of his fighters to spar with Leonard, and that Steward will work with Leonard "for about a week" during training.
Asked if Steward would work Leonard's corner, Trainer said, "Not to my knowledge."
Leonard (36-1-1) suggested before the Duran fight he might not fight again because of tiresome questions about the "worthiness" of his opponents. But recently he has said he is eager to get back into the ring.