Faced with dwindling crowds and gate receipts for his dinner-fight cards at La Fontaine Bleu, local fight promoter and matchmaker Josh Hall will test a new boxing venue tomorrow night when he stages a six-bout card at Michael's on Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.
Baltimore junior welterweight Eddie Van Kirk (23-7-1) will meet Henry Hughes (13-3-1) of Cleveland in the eight-round main event.
For his last three promotions at La Fontaine Bleu in July, August and October, Hall attracted paid crowds of 201, 530 and 418 in a catering hall that can hold 800.
Hall believes the economic slump is partly to blame, but feels a bigger factor was the canceled shows at La Fontaine Bleu and money owed to customers by his predecessor, Max Kisner, whom he served as matchmaker.
"A lot of Max's regular customers just stopped buying tickets," Hall said. "Because of my association with him, it was tough to convince them we were a new and separate operation."
Hall shopped for a new location and reached an agreement with Mike Wagner, the state representative from the 32nd District, who owns Michael's.
"I've always been a sports enthusiast, but mostly involved with youth programs," said Wagner. "I didn't want to see the fight shows leave our area because I believe there are a lot of boxing enthusiasts in Anne Arundel County.
"I'm only supplying the hall, which can seat up to 1,000," Wagner said. "But I know a lot of people in the area, and that should help Josh sell tickets."
Reminded that a number of politicians are afraid of professional boxing's unsavory reputation, Wagner said: "It's not my responsibility to judge the sport. We have a state athletic commission to monitor the sport. The burden is with them to keep it clean."
Tickets are priced at $35 and $30 and may be reserved by calling 760-2699.
Maryland heavyweight contender Riddick Bowe signed a two-fight deal with TVKO yesterday, but his manager-promoter, Rock Newman, failed to get champion Evander Holyfield's financial adviser, Shelly Finkel, to agree to a future title match with Bowe as part of the cable-TV package.
"I know Rock tried to include Evander to sweeten the cable deal," Finkel said, "but we told him that after Evander fights Francesco Damiani in Atlanta [Nov. 23], we are still committed to fighting Mike Tyson. We have to wait and see how his January trial [for alleged rape] turns out."
Newman, in turn, has put WBO heavyweight champion Ray Mercer on hold. Mercer, a prospective Bowe opponent, has signed to fight former champion Larry Holmes Feb. 7 for a $1.4 million purse.
While awaiting a title match, Newman will keep Bowe's risks to a minimum. He is scheduled to fight unranked Mike Evans Dec. 13 on the undercard of the Mike McCallum-James Toney middleweight championship bout in Atlantic City, N.J.
Buddy McGirt, who challenges WBC welterweight champion Simon Brown at The Mirage in Las Vegas Nov. 29, had to wait more than three years for another title shot after losing his IBF crown to Meldrick Taylor in 1988.
McGirt was considered the hottest fighter in the country after defending the 147-pound title a month earlier with a sensational first-round knockout of Howard Davis.
"Fast money, fast women and fast cars did me in," said a reformed McGirt, who will be making his Las Vegas ring debut.
Unbeaten junior lightweight Eugene Speed (19-0), of Palmer Park, headlines a boxing card at George Washington Junior High in Alexandria, Va., Saturday when he meets Alfredo Mercado (30-13-1), of Orlando, in a 10-round bout.
Speed, trained and managed by Dave Jacobs, who was Sugar Ray Leonard's original trainer, recently won the IBC Inter-Continental 130-pound title in a stirring fight with Jose Sanabria.