Junius Hinton, who has undertaken the rebuilding of light-heavyweight contender Andrew Maynard of Laurel, predicts fight fans will liken the 1988 Olympic champion to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when he battles journeyman Robert Curry at Painters Mill Theatre on Thursday night.
"Everyone will be wondering how this nice, friendly kid with that wonderful smile outside the ring can be such a killer inside the ropes," said Hinton.
But boxing critics had suspected that Maynard was suffering from a split personality. The fighting fury he exhibited in winning an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, South Korea, when he averaged incredible 150 punches a round, had been lacking in his most recent fights as a professional.
It was as if Maynard, a natural brawler in the style of Mike Tyson, was being re-created in the image of his manager, boxing master Sugar Ray Leonard. Or, at least, Maynard's original trainer, Pepe Correa, had attempted to mold Maynard in the style of former students Maurice Blocker and Simon Brown, who each own a piece of the welterweight title.
Taming Maynard proved disastrous last June, when the then-unbeaten fighter planned on using shopworn former light-heavyweight champion Bobby Czyz as a steppingstone to a title fight against World Boxing Council champion Dennis Andries.
A thoroughly beaten Maynard, his right eye swollen shut and his face a mass of welts, was counted out 42 seconds into the seventh round while resting on one knee.
"I was caught in between styles," Maynard said. "I wanted to be aggressive, but I was holding my hands low like a boxer, and I was getting beat to the punch.
"I'd become a boxing robot, not earning any respect from my opponent. I should have set down and gone after Czyz from the opening bell. Instead, I was up on my toes boxing and jabbing. I wasn't aggressive at all."
As a young pro with only 12 bouts under his belt, Maynard, 26, placed great faith in Correa.
"Deep down, I felt I could have whipped Cycz if I had just gone in there and fought my usual fight," he said. "But having a veteran trainer is just like having a wife. You try to reach a compromise on things. But, with Pepe, it was one way, his way. I had to respect him because he had helped make Sugar Ray a world champion."
Hinton, who has guided his son, Jemal, to the WBC intercontinental super-bantamweight crown, watched Maynard's fight with Czyz in disbelief.
"Andrew had to go out early and let an old warhorse like Czyz know that he was no one to play with and put a hurt on him," Hinton said. "That's not the time to change styles. His mind was in limbo. He was backing up. Someone had to make a fight of it, and Czyz just took charge."
In his last fight under Correa's direction, Maynard again looked uncertain in winning a lackluster, eight-round decision over Keith McMurray on the under card of the Buster Douglas-Evander Holyfield championship match.
"We're getting Andrew back on track," Hinton said. "We're not trying to change his natural style, just trying to improve on it and restore his confidence.
"He's more of a puncher than a boxer. We've cut down on his movement and taught him defense. He doesn't have to steamroll his opponent in a few rounds. There are four ropes holding him in. He can catch his man over 10 rounds."
Maynard became an outstanding amateur fighter while serving as an Army cook at Fort Carson, Colo. After making the Olympic team, he sparred regularly against heavyweights Ray Mercer and Riddick Bowe.
"They'd try to play with me, holding me off with the jab," he said. "But I'd just wing punches and keep coming. I know I held my own against them."
But now, Maynard is learning patience. He wants a rematch with Czyz, but Czyz is moving up to the cruiserweight class.
And then there are the four 175-pound titleholders -- Virgil Hill, Andries, Michael Moorer and Prince Williams -- to challenge. But first he must rekindle the flame that made him an Olympic champion.
And there are other thoughts on his mind.
"I'm still in the Army reserve, attached to 110th Infantry," he said. "Every day I check my mailbox, wondering if I'm getting called back. If I have to go to Saudi Arabia, I'll fight like hell. Don't worry about that."
* Fight facts
Who: Andrew Maynard (13-1), Laurel, vs. Robert Curry (23-13), Clarksburg, W.Va., light heavyweights, 10 rounds main event. William Galliwango (15-0-1), Richmond, Va., vs. Mark Buchanon (10-2), Norfolk, Va., junior middleweights, 10 rounds, semifinal.
Where: Painters Mill Theatre, Owings Mills.
When: Thursday, first bout, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $30 ringside, $20 reserved (727-0885).