Three-time champion Sugar Ray Leonard plans to fight again before the end of the year, according to reports.

The New York Times, in today's editions, quoted Leonard, who hasn't fought since winning the middleweight title from Marvelous Marvin Hagler in April 1987, as saying he would likely fight Don Lalonde, the World Boxing Council light-heavyweight champion.

"Lalonde is being seriously considered," Leonard told the newspaper. "I haven't seen a contract and I don't know what the procrastination is about. But I've told Mike Trainer I want to fight this year."

Trainer, Leonard's attorney, told the newspaper that a match between Leonard and Lalonde taking place was "a reasonalbe assumption."

The fight would reportedly be staged for Lalonde's light-heavyweight title and a newly created WBC super middleweight crown. If Leonard were to win the fight, he'd be the first person in boxing history to win five titles.

Trainer said if a fight were to be scheduled this year, he expected it to be announced by next week. He and Leonard also said other opponents besides Lalonde had been approached.

This would be Leonard's third return to boxing: He initially left in 1982 after surgery for a detached retina. He then retired in 1984 following a victory over Kevin Howard. In May 1987 he quit again, less than two months after beating Hagler.

In Las Vegas, Michael Nunn bewildered Frank Tate for seven rounds, dominating the middleweight champion with speed and movement. Then he decided to get mean.

Nunn unleashed a savage left to the body late in the eighth round Thursday night to knock Tate down, then finished him with a flurry of head shots early in the ninth to take Tate's International Boxing Federation middleweight title.

Nunn looked much like his idol, Sugar Ray Leonard, as he mugged and moved against Tate in the early rounds, taunting him with gestures and talking to him at other times.

Tate was clearly frustrated as he tried in vain to get at the ever-moving Nunn, who managed to evade most of Tate's big shots while landing easily with his own. Tate, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, suffered his first loss as a pro. It was his second defense of the title he won from Michael Olajide in October.

Tate, who said he had to shed 20 pounds in training to make the 160-pound limit, said he will move up to 168 pounds for his next fight.

In New York, former heavyweight champion Michael Dokes won the sixth straight fight on his comeback trail Thursday night, when he stopped Manuel De Almeida in the fourth round.

Dokes pounded his Brazilian opponent for four full rounds, prompting De Almeida to tell his corner he had enough after the fourth round. Dokes improved to 35-1-2 with 22 knockouts.