The main event at Painters Mill Theater pitting former world champions Calvin Grove, of Coatesville, Pa., and Julian Solis, of Hartford, Conn., -- to be carried live on cable television last night -- was canceled when Solis failed a neurological examination by the Maryland State Athletic Commission.
The fight card, co-promoted by Frank Gelb, of Philadelphia, and Stuart Satosky, of Baltimore, was allowed to continue. A 10-round welterweight match featuring Vincent Pettway, of Baltimore, and Stephan Johnson, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was made the feature bout for the USA Cable Network broadcast.
After Solis, 33, failed motor skill tests administered Monday night by commission-appointed neurologist Lawrence Charnass, commission secretary Dennis Gring began checking the boxer's record to see if he had ever been placed under suspension.
"There were no flags in the record book indicating such action," said Gring. "But we made a call to the California Athletic Commission today [yesterday] and learned that Solis had been suspended Sept. 12, 1988 for similar reasons."
Said Charnass, "I found in administering the tests to Solis that he had awkward coordination for a fighter who once had superior ring skills."
Ironically, Solis, who turned pro in 1978 and won the World Boxing Association bantamweight title two years later by out-pointing Jorge Lujan, has won two fights this year by knockout. He stopped Anthony Boyle in six rounds in Philadelphia, Jan. 4, and needed only two rounds to dispose of Mike Cruz in a Miami bout, April 10.
Neither the Pennsylvania nor Florida commission had revoked Solis' license.
"I was deeply disturbed that his [Solis] people tried to sneak him through the system," said William A. Fogle Jr., secretary of the department of licensing and regulations. "It would be a sorrowful day if our boxing commission was not concerned about the welfare of the fighters. They had no choice but to suspend him."
What concerned Russell Peltz, a boxing consultant for Gelb Productions, was the timing of Solis' suspension. Peltz did not have an opportunity to find a suitable replacement to fight Grove, the former International Boxing Federation featherweight champion.
"I didn't even know they gave this kind of test in Maryland," said Peltz. "If I did, I would never have booked a television show here. I think it is going to hurt the prospects of holding a future TV show in Maryland.
"California started this type testing in 1986, and the time Solis flunked the test, so did three other Hispanic fighters."
Said Solis manager, Jack Arias: "You've got to be mentally sharp to pass this test. But it's discriminatory to Latins. Julian only has a first-grade education. Even Grove, who graduated high school, told me he had trouble with the test."
Fans were offered refunds.