"Either him or the Chinese guy he's fighting," Gregorio said, apparently referring to Ryu Sorimachi of Japan. " Brenner and me will be out in Las Vegas next week to talk to Palomino. Sulaim�n will be there too. So why fight Duran, like they are talking? Palomino is for a title and Duran is for 10 rounds. If we beat Palomino then we got the title and then we give a chance to Duran, only we're fighting at 147 pounds then. With all that, right now a Duran match is too dangerous. Unless Teddy gives us the $100,000 and two more pounds. Then we fight."
For the moment, numbers like $100,000 are beyond Curry's reach. That's $96,000 more than he got for the first Benitez fight, when he was a 3-to-1 underdog despite his 13-0 record. He all but destroyed the overconfident Puerto Rican, knocking him down three times. And then stood there and listened while two of the three New York judges gave Benitez the decision.
Disgusted, the 21-year-old ex-Texan went home to Los Angeles, where he signed to fight Minoru Fugiya for $10,000 in Japan on Jan. 24. Fugiya was Japan's No. 3 junior welterweight. Curry already had knocked out Japan's No. 1 and 2. It was easy money. Then the Garden called and offered him the rematch with Benitez. For $12,500.
"We were really in a bind," says Jesse Reid, Curry's manager. "We were committed to the fight in Japan, where Bruce is something of a hero. And we wanted the rematch with Benitez after the robbery they gave us. We figured we'd just go ahead with both fights."
The first one wasn't much of a problem. Overriding protests from the Garden, Curry flew to Japan, floored Fugiya five times and knocked him out in the third round. It was his eighth knockout in 15 fights.
The next day Curry flew for 10 hours back to Los Angeles, rested there for a day, then flew for five hours to New York City, and rested for a week. Since Jan. 22 he had had but one hard workout, plus three rounds of sparring against the inept Fugiya.
"I know why they fought that bum in Japan," said Gregorio Benitez. "To build Curry's confidence. After we beat him, he had to be down. It was a smart move on their part. But it won't help him. We are going to put him in a hospital this time."
In a smart move of his own, Gregorio had shipped his playboy son to Mexico City for a month's hard work in rarefied air. There Wilfredo sparred more than 100 rounds, which is about 90 more than he sparred before the first Curry fight. "My kid was in terrible shape the first fight," Gregorio said.
Sitting in a chair next to his father, Wilfredo grinned. He had been switching the dial on a TV set, trying to find a monster movie. Now he said, "The first fight was supposed to be with Duran. I was starting to work hard. Then Duran got sick, and they said I was fighting Curry instead. I said, 'Curry who?' And I stopped working. He knocked me down three times. Then I knew who Curry was. This time I have worked very hard. I no play."
For the first four rounds of the fight, Benitez remembered too well who Curry was. Mostly he stayed outside. Far outside.