Local boxing manager Frank Gilbert bristles when someone refers to his lightweight Chuckie Sturm as a "club fighter."
Sturm, 25, who has registered most of his 22 professional victories by beating obscure rivals in small area fight clubs, will have a chance to change that image tomorrow night when he makes his national television debut on SportsChannel against Vinnie Burgese of Philadelphia.
The 10-round bout will be staged at Harrah's Marina in AtlantiCity, N.J., with the card beginning at 8 p.m.
"I look at this fight as a real door-opener for me," said Sturm, native of Glen Burnie. "If I beat Burgese, a lot of good things will start happening for me."
A victory could lead to a place in the world rankings for Sturm rated No. 13 by the United States Boxing Association.
Burgese (20-2-1), who has fought better competition, lost his bid for a world ranking when he was beaten last year by former lightweight champion Vinnie Pazienza, then fought a disappointing draw with Owen McGeachey.
"The way I look at this fight," said Gilbert, "is that the two fighter are a lot alike. It will be a battle of wills for the first five rounds and then turn into a battle of skills. And I believe Chuckie is more skillful."
Among Burgese's victims are area fighters Eddie Van Kirk an Victor Davis, but Gilbert believes Burgese was the beneficiary of hometown favoritism, particularly in the Davis fight three years ago.
"It was an eight-rounder, and I gave six rounds to Davis," Gilber ++ said. "He clearly won the fight, but the officials up there protect their fighters. That's why I figure Chuck has to dominate Burgese or knock him out."
Sturm (22-2-1) agrees with his manager's assessment.
"I think I'll have to win every round decisively," he said. "He's a brawler like me, but my biggest concern is seeing that I don't get butted. I have a tendency to get cut, and he likes using his head and elbows as weapons."
Sturm, a stocky, 5-foot-6, 130-pounder who prefers fighting inside, believes conditioning could swing the fight in his favor.
He has never had weight problems, dating back to hi adolescent days when he competed as a wrestler and a boxer in junior programs in the Glen Burnie area.
Sturm began fighting at age 8 and won South Atlantic amateu boxing titles five straight years, moving up from 60 pounds to 119.
He enjoyed similar success as a high school wrestler at Old Mill, capturing the state championship at 119 and 126 pounds his junior and senior years.
But after a year of wrestling at Coppin State, Sturm left colleg and turned all his attention to a boxing career. He built a large following with his aggressive style, and some 50 supporters will accompany him to Atlantic City.