After waging 233 amateur and professional fights and trying and discarding at least a dozen managers and trainers, Percy Harris, 27, finally has his boxing future in focus.
The Baltimore middleweight (11-2), who meets Edwin Newby (5-5) of Atlantic City, N.J., in the main event at LaFontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie tonight, says he has found a perfect boxing match in Joe Costello, who handles a small stable of fighters in Texas.
Harris made a recent business trip to Costello's deluxe training camp in Tyler, Texas, and left with a three-year contract in his pocket that will, at least, guarantee him a wage between fights.
"I've learned that the most important thing in boxing is having someone who can move you as a fighter, and Costello has a good track record," said Harris (seven knockouts).
"He maneuvered Manning Galloway into a title fight, and now Galloway is the WBO [World Boxing Organization] welterweight champion. With three or four more wins, I figure Costello can also get me a title shot. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be a champion by 1993."
It has been a lifelong pursuit for Harris, who began fighting as a 9-year-old 90-pound novice in Mack Lewis' Broadway gym. He won a number of area titles before capturing the national AAU middleweight crown in 1985, but delayed his pro debut for three years after a motorcycle accident.
"Maybe it was just burnout after all those years in the gym," he said. "I just lost my commitment to training and fighting."
Harris, a boxer-puncher with a classic style, won 10 straight after turning pro two years ago. He has made frequent changes in his advisers, including a stretch when he managed himself. It proved unwise, with Harris losing two of his past three out-of-town fights. Last February, he was soundly beaten by Ray McElroy in Hollywood, Fla.
The Harris-Newby match tops a six-bout card arranged by promoter Josh Hall. Tickets for the dinner-boxing show are priced at $30 and can be reserved by calling 760-2699.