- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

Some of the greats of boxing gathered last night at the Hilton Washington and Towers for the round of charity, cigars and champagne known as Fight Night. Leading the show was local favorite Sugar Ray Leonard.
The event raises money for Fight for Children, the organization founded by Joseph E. Robert Jr. to help local organizations.
Scheduled to appear on the boxing card was heavyweight contender Michael Grant, on the comeback trail since his loss to Lennox Lewis two years ago, against James "Hurricane" Watson.
More than 2,000 of the District's movers and shakers in politics, sports and business have gathered each year for 13 years for an old-fashioned "smoker" and a night at the fights.
The highlight of the event is always the appearance of boxing legends, such as former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta; former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Michael Spinks; former welterweight and middleweight champion Carmen Basilio; former heavyweight contender Earnie Shavers, and Leonard, the former Palmer Park, Md., fighter who won world titles in the welterweight, junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.
"This is a wonderful night," Leonard said. "It's a wonderful cause, and it's always good to be part of it."
Leonard, 46, is back in the boxing business, this time as a promoter with his own company that promotes fights and fighters nationwide. Although Leonard was more involved in his own career and promotion as a boxer than perhaps any other fighter, he said the business side of the sport has been an education.
"I was sort of isolated from the business because of Mike Trainer [Leonards adviser]," he said. "Although I knew about the business end, doing it is another dimension and learning how difficult this business is. We have built our company from the ground up."
One of his fighters, heavyweight Joe Mesi, recently drew 16,000 to a fight in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., a win against contender David Izon. "You don't find a lot of great competition in boxing like you used to," Leonard said. "My whole thing is to try to promote good fights."
Part of the buzz in boxing today is the possibility of undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. moving up to fight World Boxing Association heavyweight champion John Ruiz.
Leonard moved up over his career from the 147-pound welterweight division to eventually fight Donny LaLonde and capture a light heavyweight title in the 175-pound weight class, so he knows something about moving up in weight, although he never considered fighting as a heavyweight.
"Light heavyweight was good enough for me," he said, laughing. "But I think if Roy can move non-stop for 12 rounds and not get hit, he can win the fight. I'll be curious to see if Roy can hold him off in a clinch. The only way Ruiz can win is if it becomes a wrestling match."

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