NEW YORK (AP) _ When it looked as if their fight had been knocked out, Sugar Ray Leonard and Hector Camacho kept training, and their optimism paid off Monday.

The bout will take place March 1 instead of Feb. 28 in Atlantic City, N.J. The Convention Center remains the site, but the promotion and pay-per-view distributor have changed.

``We've been keeping this fight together in a number of ways,'' said Bernard Dillon, involved with the Feb. 28 promotion until he ran into trouble. ``Ray and Hector never left camp and never gave up that this fight would be held.''

Leonard, 40, has been training since Dec. 8 at Chandler, Ariz., for what will be his first fight in a little more than six years. Camacho, 34, who has had 28 fights in six years, has been training since Dec. 27 at Clewiston, Fla.

``I needed a head start,'' Leonard joked by telephone.

Asked if there was any change in the purse structure, which was has never been announced, Dillon said, ``I don't speak about purses.''

``I'm fighting March 1, so apparently I'm very pleased about it,'' said Leonard, who reportedly was to get $5 million when the fight was first announced Nov. 14.

Also remaining with the promotion is Mike Acri, Camacho's promoter. Joining it are Caesars Atlantic City as the site promoter and Vince McMahon's Titan Sports, which will handle the pay-per-view.

The Feb. 28 fight was to have been promoted by New Contenders, whose president was Dillon and whose chairman was Michael Blutrich. The site sponsors were Sun International Hotels Ltd. and Griffin Gaming & Entertainment.

The fight ran into trouble when the New Jersey Casino Control Commission was asked by regulators to ban New Contenders from promoting the bout because of alleged ties to organized crime.

The allegation centered on Michael Blutrich, a lawyer for Scores, a New York City topless dance club raided in November by federal agents investigating links to the Gambino crime family.

The sponsors then pulled out as did TVKO, the pay-per-view division of Time-Warner Sports.

Dillon resigned from New Contenders and announced his intention to keep the fight together. He now promotes as Dillon Promotions.

Rich Rose, president of Caesars World Sports, said that the company had held several Leonard fights at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, ``and when we had the opportunity to do this we were very happy to be able to put it in Atlantic City. Not many guys have transcended their sport the way Ray has. It's an entertaining matchup.''

``We're not very aggressive about boxing,'' said McMahon, whose Titan carries World Wrestling Federation match. ``But when it comes to being associated with people like Ray we wanted to do it.''

The only other fight Titan has distributed was Leonard's ninth-round victory over Donnie Lalonde for the WBC super middleweight and light heavyweight titles Nov. 7, 1988, at Caesars Palace.

Leonard has held world titles in three other weight classes. In his last bout, he was outpointed in 12 rounds by Terry Norris on Feb. 9, 1991, at Madison Square Garden in New York.