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LEONARD BATTLES FOR TITLE TONIGHT

LEONARD BATTLES FOR TITLE TONIGHT

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Will the bout at Madison Square Garden tonight be the last one of Sugar Ray Leonard's career?

That is what fight fans will be wondering when he takes aim at Terry Norris and his World Boxing Council superwelterweight title in a scheduled 12-round bout to be televised live by Showtime (10 p.m.).Despite being three months away from his 35th birthday, Leonard is favored. One of the most notable fighters of the last 15 years, he is a former champion in five weight classes ranging from welterweight to light heavyweight.

In a professional career that dates to February 1977, when he made his debut by winning a six-round decision over Luis ``the Bull' Vega, Leonard has achieved a record of 36-1-1 with 25 knockouts.

In recent bouts, however, Leonard has appeared vulnerable to time and other men's ambition. He has suffered knockdowns and has been cut, signs in the eyes of some observers that he is headed for a fall.

The closest Leonard has come to failure lately was a disputed draw against Thomas Hearns in June 1989, back when Leonard was the WBC super middleweight (168-pound limit) champion.

Some time afterward, Leonard conceded that Hearns, who knocked him down twice that night, ought to have gotten the decision.

Leonard will be fighting in a class that has a limit of 154 pounds tonight, closer to his walk-around weight and, in fact, his figure at the weigh-in Friday.

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