Norris Is at the End of the Line : Boxing: If he beats Brown tonight, there is really nobody left worth fighting for a while.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Terry Norris will risk his junior-middleweight championship tonight against one of the last quality opponents available to him.

And if, as expected, Norris is successful at Caesars Palace against Simon Brown, he might as well pack up his wife, Kelly, and their two children and begin an around-the-world cruise.

There is no one else out there for Norris to fight. Not for a long stretch, anyway.

Joe Sayatovich says his fighter, only 25, might have been too successful for his own good.

"He's beaten (Meldrick) Taylor, (Donald) Curry and (Sugar Ray) Leonard, and after he beats Brown, who's left? We were really hoping to get a rematch with Julian Jackson (who stopped Norris three years ago), but Jackson signed to fight James Toney.

"So right there, we lose one future opponent--whoever loses. And we wouldn't get the winner until the spring. We hear Buddy McGirt is now interested, but we heard that before and he ran off and fought someone else."

Norris and Sayatovich's previous dealings with the elusive McGirt are a measure of how far Norris has ascended in boxing's middleweight classes. Last spring, even before Norris had beaten Taylor, Sayatovich had discussions with Al Certo, McGirt's manager.

"Basically, McGirt and his people turned down a fight with Terry whereby McGirt could have earned $1 million even if he'd lost," Sayatovich said. "If he'd won, he'd have earned $1.6 million. And his welterweight championship wasn't at stake, (so) he could have turned right around and defended his welterweight title against someone else for another $1 million.

"But here's what he did: He went to Sicily, fought a guy in his own hometown for $200,000 and put his title on the line. He won, but almost got knocked out."

Sayatovich's point is that world-class fighters are beginning to avoid Norris.

Until March of 1990, Terry Norris seemed to be just another welterweight. He wasn't just a journeyman, but he wasn't yet anything special.

On March 31, 1990, he flattened John Mugabi in the first round, winning the World Boxing Council's junior-middleweight championship. Since then, he has outclassed seven consecutive challengers and is a solid pick to do the same tonight against Brown, a one-time welterweight champion.

Brown, 28, a Jamaican living in Mt. Airy, Md., was once, like Norris, a man few wanted to fight. When young Mark Breland, the 1984 Olympic champion, was being groomed as a welterweight in the mid-1980s, he was steered away from the hard-punching Brown.

In 1988, Brown won the International Boxing Federation's version of the welterweight title by beating Tyrone Trice in France, then defended it seven times. He beat Maurice Blocker in 1991 for the WBC version of the title.

But last November, Brown, in a surprise, meekly lost his title to McGirt on a decision. Brown blamed the defeat on increased difficulty in making 147 pounds and a case of flu. He wound up in the hospital that night, suffering from dehydration.

Afterward, he told writers he had had only ice cubes and water the three days before the fight.

But Friday afternoon, neither athlete had difficulty making the junior-middleweight maximum of 154 pounds, both weighing 152.

And so Norris, who tonight earns his second consecutive million-dollar purse, hopes to put down Brown, then await the Jackson-Toney winner.

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