NEW YORK, NOV. 29 -- The name Terry Norris will not ring many bells in most minds, but that is not what Sugar Ray Leonard is concerned with. At 34, Leonard is fine-tuning the rough draft of his entry in the boxing history books, and there is a picture he wants included.
"All the fights I've had are good fights," Leonard said today at a news conference promoting his Feb. 9 WBC super welterweight fight with Norris. "But when my career is over, I'd like to tell my kids that I did fight at Madison Square Garden, a place I consider the Mecca of boxing."
Las Vegas has its casinos and the money that flows through them. Atlantic City is the new neighbor on that same glitzy (some might say tacky) block. New York has a more abstract, historic appeal for boxers and the sport's followers.
Leonard did fight once before in this building at Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street in Manhattan. On Jan. 15, 1973, he won a three-round amateur fight on a card featuring teams from the United States and England at the Felt Forum, a smaller room.
But Leonard, who at various times has held five world titles, has never fought in the main arena, with its 18,000 seats. This Garden is the fourth version, and it opened with a fight on March 4, 1968. Ali-Frazier I (referred to by some as "The Fight") and II were held here.
The 23-year-old Norris captured the WBC super welterweight (154 pounds) title March 31 when he recorded a first-round knockout of John "The Beast" Mugabi.
Not every Leonard fight has been art, but he is undefeated when challenging for a world title. Although one way or another, boxing is always about money, this will not be the most lucrative contest of Leonard's career.
His manager, Mike Trainer, said Leonard will make between $4 million and $7 million. Norris is expected to take home something in the neighborhood of $1 million.
"This young man will give me a barometer on where I stand with the young guys," Leonard said.
Norris, who as a 9-year-old in Lubbock, Tex., watched Leonard win a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics, expressed gratitude for the chance to "skyrocket my career."
"I have all the skills Leonard once had," said Norris, who is 26-3. Later, he said: "I respect Ray for what he's done in the past. But the past is past. Ray is going to have to move on."
Trainer explained that a combination of factors led to this fight at this time. Leonard wanted to fight at the Garden. By doing it in February, there would be less competition for the Garden from other boxing venues. Leonard, who last fought on Dec. 7, 1989, against Roberto Duran, has two months to get ready.
Leonard will begin training next week in Washington, then move his camp to Tampa until the Super Bowl in late January, when he will move on to New York.
If Leonard loses to Norris, it might be the end. He will be 35 in May. If he wins, who would come next is uncertain. Trainer thinks Leonard would like another fight with Thomas Hearns. But the "Hit Man" weighs 185 pounds these days, according to Trainer.
It also wouldn't likely be Washington's Simon Brown, who is the IBF welterweight champion. Leonard doesn't want to fight at 147 pounds and Trainer doesn't see Brown as enough of a draw, especially without a title that Leonard wants. Trainer said Brown has to expect less lucrative payoffs until he is a more marketable commodity.