When last seen, junior middleweight Eddie Van Kirk resembled a hit-and-run victim.
He had an eight-stitch gash over his right eye, a bloody nose and battered lip, all the result of a head-on collision with Baltimore rival Vincent Pettway, who stopped him in six rounds at the Baltimore Arena last March.
"I really considered quitting," said Van Kirk. "That was a real bad beating. But I love boxing too much, and, at 29, I believe I still have a lot of good fights left in me."
He will begin his latest comeback Wednesday night at LaFontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie when he battles Anthony Ross of Alexandria, Va., in the eight-round feature on Josh Hall's dinner-boxing card.
In 10 years as a professional, Van Kirk (22-7-1) has come full circle. He has returned to his original trainer, Tony Longo, after working with Ben Getty, Jimmy Hines, Adrian Davis and former welterweight and middleweight champion Emile Griffith.
"Griffith is expensive, plus he's busy with [WBC welterweight champion] Simon Brown," said Van Kirk.
"I like the way Davis works with his fighters, but when I needed him in my corner against Pettway, he wasn't there. Five minutes before the fight, I was looking for a new cornerman. It really bothered my mind."
Van Kirk's manager, Tony Pulaski, said he had depended on promoter Don Elbaum to assure Davis' presence in Van Kirk's corner.
"Everything got messed up, and I have to take the blame for it," Pulaski said.
"I don't think it would have changed the outcome of the Pettway fight, but Eddie could have lost with more dignity."
Van Kirk is hoping to use a victory over Ross as a springboard for a match with Tommy Small of West Virginia, who recently claimed the World Boxing Federation welterweight title.
The WBF is boxing's newest organization backed by promoter Butch Lewis.
"It's not a big deal, but it's still a title," said Van Kirk.
* Title talk: Maryland welterweight Maurice Blocker, who Tuesday in Atlantic City, N.J., challenges Glenwood Brown for the IBF title vacated by Simon Brown, blames the loss of his WBC crown to best-friend Simon last spring on an ego problem.
Blocker, boxing superbly, was ahead on all three judges' scorecards when he got in a slugging match and was stopped in the 10th round.
"I didn't listen to my trainer, Eddie Futch," Blocker said. "He told me to keep doing the same things -- box and move, but I wanted to take the fight to Simon and it cost me. Next time, I'll listen."
Glenwood Brown fights much like Simon Brown, looking for the big punch and forcing the action.
Blocker, a rangy 6-footer, will need to use his superior height and reach to stay out of harm's way.
* Rating war: Rock Newman, manager of heavyweight contender Riddick Bowe, of Fort Washington, Md., said the $3 million offer Bowe received from Murad Muhammad to fight Donovan "Razor" Ruddock was just an empty promise.
Newman said Muhammad was simply miffed that Bowe had passed Ruddock in the WBC rankings.
"There is no offer, no acceptance and no fight," said Bowe's lawyer, Milton Chwasky of New York.
Bowe is No. 2, and Ruddock, who lost twice to top-rated Mike Tyson, dropped to No. 3.
Newman helped boost Bowe by attending last week's WBC convention in Thailand.
Ruddock did not ingratiate himself with WBC officials by twice failing to pay the $100,000 sanctioning fee for his "elimination" bouts with Tyson.
Bowe will be back in action Oct. 29, heading a boxing card at Washington's Convention Center.
The show also will feature unbeaten lightweight Sharmba Mitchell of Laurel and former light-heavyweight king Dwight Qawi, a.k.a. Dwight Braxton.
No opponent for Bowe has been named, but Newman will not take any big risks with Bowe in line to fight the winner of the Evander Holyfield-Tyson showdown in Las Vegas, Nov. 8.
* Brisk sale: Promoter Stuart Satosky reports a solid advance sale for his Oct. 9 fight card at the Pikesville Armory featuring junior middleweights Pettway and Juan Rondon of Venezuela.
Seats can be reserved by calling TicketMaster, 481-6000.