In view of the first Benitez-Curry fight last November, the rematch was supposed to be all-out war. But what the fans at Madison Square Garden witnessed last Friday night was a dance and a shuffle through the fifth round, and by then Bruce Curry, who had fought only eight days before in Japan, was too exhausted to care. "I just wanted to get it done and go to bed," he said later. "I should have sent out for coffee."
As Curry pooped out, Wilfredo Benitez, the junior welterweight champion of New York, surged. Curry had dropped him three times last year, but by the sixth round last Friday Benitez decided his chin was safe. Benitez began piling up points, more than enough, as it turned out, to win the 10-round decision. Which earned him the dubious pleasure of meeting lightweight champion Roberto Duran in New York on April 27.
"But hold it a minute," said Gregorio Benitez, the 19-year-old Puerto Rican's father and manager. "We haven't signed any contract to fight Duran. There are still a few things to discuss."
One is money, the other is weight. For the non-title bout, Duran would get $100,000. The Garden has offered Benitez $60,000 and wants him to come in at 143 pounds (for Curry he weighed 145�). Papa Benitez wants another $40,000 and two more pounds—unless he sells his son's contract first.
"I want to sell my kid," said Gregorio. "All I'm asking is $150,000, 10% of all his future purses and two tickets to all his fights. I say to all of them, you put the money in my hand and I put my kid in your hand. After that I don't care what you do with my kid. If the new owner wants him to fight Duran at 143 pounds, that is his worry. I want to be like Pontius Pilate: wash my hands of the whole thing."
Gregorio first offered to sell his son's contract to promoter Don King, who said no thank you, but offered to pay him $150,000 for two fights.
"I wanted to sell him; all Don wanted to do was promote him," said Gregorio. "And Don is always in a hurry. I don't like to do business with people in a hurry. So I tell him to forget it."
Then he asked Teddy Brenner, the Garden matchmaker, to help him find a buyer.
"Are you kidding?" Brenner said. "I find a buyer, the buyer wants him to fight a certain guy, and then you tell him not to take the fight. Who is your son going to listen to: you or his new manager?"
Benitez has a third argument against fighting Duran, at least in April. Last June, Jos� Sulaim�n, the World Boxing Council president, told Gregorio that he was next in line for a shot at WBC welterweight champion Carlos Palomino.