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Terry Norris Must Ponder Next Fight

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saturday night’s first-round knockout of Brett Lally at the Sports Arena made it four title defenses, four impressive performances for Terry Norris.

But 17 months after he took the World Boxing Council’s junior middleweight title from John Mugabi, Norris is still searching for respect and a pay day that will put him in a class with the elite of the boxing world.

Norris victory earned him about $300,000 or about 3% of what George Foreman made for his bout with Evander Holyfield. Even Norris’ biggest pay day, a 12-round unanimous decision over boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, earned him only $500,000--a tenth of what Leonard made.

Norris’ next opponent will probably not put him in the high-rent district either. He is expected to fight Jorge Castro of Argentina in a mandatory title defense sometime in November or December. Castro is the WBC’s No. 1 contender, but he is not exactly what Norris or his trainer, Abel Sanchez, had in mind.

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“Terry is now at the point where he’s looking for the big fight,” he said. “Something to put him in the class with Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran. He needs a challenge right now.”

Meldrick Taylor, the World Boxing Assn. welterweight champion and a weight class lighter than Norris, figures to provide that challenge and Norris’ biggest money fight of his career.

“It would be a great fight,” Sanchez said. “I think it would go 10 or 12 rounds. Meldrick Taylor is a great boxer. But I also think Terry would be able to beat him. Taylor is not nearly as strong as a Brett Lally. He would have a hard time hurting Terry.”

But whether Norris and Taylor can ever get together is another thing.

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Sanchez said HBO offered Taylor a bout with Norris two months ago, but Taylor’s camp turned it down.

Norris would eventually like to fight Taylor, but he wonders how many people will be waiting in line to fight him after his 2:40 knockout of Lally, the WBC’s second-ranked boxer.

“I know it’s going to be hard to get another fight in San Diego after (Saturday),” he said. “They’re going to say, ‘I don’t want to fight that guy. He’s an animal.’ ”

Sanchez agreed that it may be hard to land any kind of fight after Saturday.

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“He’s on a different level than everybody else in the super welterweight division,” Sanchez said. “Terry’s in the driver’s seat. And everyone knows that.”

If Norris’ camp is unable to land a Taylor fight, they may attempt to move up in weight and take on middleweight champions Mike McCallum or James Toney. Michael Nunn might have provided a pay day larger than Taylor, but Nunn was stopped by Toney in May.

Joe Sayatovich, Norris’ manager, said he will immediately begin looking for an opponent who can attract a large purse.

“If we can get a big money fight, we’ll do that before the mandatory defense,” Sayatovich said.

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Whoever Norris fights, the site will probably be San Diego.

Saturday night’s card drew more than 5,000 people, the largest boxing crowd in San Diego since Ken Norton fought Muhammad Ali here in 1973.

When Norris was introduced, he was given a standing ovation.

“It was a great feeling,” Norris said. “I have to do it again. It gave me a great push.”

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