Word is already out that Sugar Ray Leonard is talking about fighting again. It's true, but this time it won't be just a one-shot deal, as it was when he returned from a four-year retirement to fight middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler last spring.
Look for Leonard to be active for the next couple of years - and don't assume his first fight will be a rematch with Hagler. Leonard has had preliminary discussions with Tommy Hearns, the reigning World Boxing Council middleweight champion.The bottom line here, as with all fights, will be money. Leonard will go to the highest bidder.
"He wants to be active," a source close to Leonard said, "but he wants to be active in his economic range. And that limits him to two or three fighters."
Hearns is, in some ways, more attractive to Leonard because Hearns holds a championship belt. If Leonard takes the belt, he'll have that much more leverage with which to dictate the conditions of a fight with Hagler.
The question, of course, is why would Leonard climb into the ring again? Why not leave well enough alone? With his stunning victory over Hagler last year, Leonard left his sport as Ted Williams did his: As a champion who saved his best for last.
Just as we'll remember Williams rounding the bases as the ball sailed into the Fenway Park bleacher seats in his final at-bat, we'll remember Leonard raising his fists in exultation as stunned fans tucked their ticket stubs away for safekeeping. This was one to tell the grandkids.
"He's a warrior," a friend said in explanation. "Fighters fight."
Leonard has been in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the past week playing tennis, so one assumes the fights won't be any time soon.