Only a couple of days from his second professional fight, Pasadena boxer Carson McCourry already is planning his retirement from the ring.
"I'm not going to be one of those guys out there fighting when I'm 30 or 35 years old," he said last week, pausing briefly from his training regime at the Harding-Lowry gymnasium in Pasadena.
"I figure I have four years left."
In the 25-year-old light heavyweight's immediate future are four rounds that should help determine his longevity in the sport.
A 1984 graduate of Northeast High, McCourry meets James Jones (1-1) of Hampton, Va., as part of Round One Promotion's six-fight card Thursday night at La Fontaine Bleu.
The dinner-boxing show includes two other fighters with local ties.
Mark Padeletti (2-1-1), a Baltimore native who also trains at the Harding-Lowry gym, takes on Horace Waterson (1-1-1) of Rockville in a four-round junior welterweight bout. And middleweightTyrone Griffin (1-1) of Pumphrey meets Cliff Wise (1-2) of Laurel in a six-rounder.
Other scheduled fights include Joe Hamilton (0-2) of Baltimore vs. Carlton West (2-5) of Hampton, Va., four rounds, heavyweight; and Elwin Battle (0-1) of Hampton vs. Glen Randolph (0-2) of Rockville, four rounds, super lightweight.
The main event features Percy "No Mercy" Harris (11-2) of Baltimore and Edwin Newby (6-5) of Atlantic City, N.J., in an eight-round super middleweight bout.
"This guy is a national Golden Gloves champion and a hell of a prospect," matchmaker Josh Hall said of Harris. "With an 11-2 record, all he's got to do right now is win three or four more eight-round fights, and possibly a couple 10-rounders. With all the different rankings out there, he would be in line to fight somebody in the Top 10."
McCourry, who also goes by the name "Skippy Banks," still is a long way from taking on Top 10-caliber opponents. But he sees Jones as an important step in honing his skills.
"I just want to go the four rounds with the guy, box him," he said. "If a knockout comes, it comes. But I just want toget in there and box."
And in a less clumsy manner than his debutlast February, when he scored a sloppy third-round technical knockout over unheralded Jeff Schmude at the Baltimore Arena.
"I don't want this fight to be like last time, when I did stupid stuff," he said. "I swung once and spun myself around. I didn't have any balance. I didn't realize how important that was."
He learned quickly after enlisting the help of Hall and George Alston. Hall serves as his trainer, while Alston works as manager and assistant trainer.
"Josh tries to make me move in and out, and I would like to be able to do that, but I also like to mix it up," he said.
Alston, 48, of Hanover, discovered certain intangibles in McCourry that compensated for a lack of natural ability.
"He's got a lot of ambition and a tremendousamount of courage," he said. "When I first saw him, he was desperately lacking in skills. Now, he's improved 200 percent.
"He badly wants to be a boxer, but he knows he doesn't have a lot of years left. He pushes me, I don't push him."
Few people have ever pushed McCourry around. Though he never boxed as an amateur, he did have an occasional run-in at a local bar, further enhancing his tough-guy image.
"Skippy's gotten some bad publicity in the past for being a bad kid, but he's really pretty mild," Alston said. "He just needs to know someone will stick with him and he'll go a long way."
Alston did all he could last Friday to stay away from McCourry, back-peddling fromthe onrushing fighter during a sparring session.
"I won't get in the ring with too many people, only those I can yell 'stop' to," Alston said.
Meanwhile, Padeletti hopes to avenge his only loss as a professional, when Waterson scored a four-round unanimous decision on the March 14 card. He returned to La Fontaine Bleu on May 15, settling for a draw against Steve Frederick of Washington.
Padeletti broke his right hand in the Frederick fight, but said the injury has healed.
"It feels pretty good, but it took two or three months. I didn't do anything for a month, just to make sure," he said.
"This fight is very important to me. If I get this win -- when I get this win -- it will make me feel undefeated, even though the loss is still on my record."
Like McCourry, Padeletti is seeking to abandon his brawling style and become a more polished fighter.
"Before, I just wanted to get in there and hit a guy with one punch. Now, I'm working alot on movement, combinations, countering and shortening my punches," he said. "I used to just run in there and a guy could pick me apart. I was looking to knock everybody out, and you're not going to do that."
Hall and promoter Victoria Savaliski are expecting a better turnout than in May, when late cancellations and other summer alternatives left the crowd at less than 400.
"The Orioles are off (Thursday) and it's been a couple months since we've been to La Fontaine Bleu," Hall said. "We've got so many darned good boxing fans here who want the fights."
The fights aren't the lone attraction.
Leslie Glass, who worked as a ringcard girl on numerous La Fontaine Bleu cards and was featured in a September Playboy pictorial, is scheduled to appear for an autograph session.
Dinner will be served from 6 to 8p.m., with the fights beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets still are available and can be purchased at La Fontaine Bleu, Club 4100 in Brooklyn, J.J.'s Tavern in Point Pleasant, or by calling 760-2699.