Josh Hall and Victoria Savaliski promoted a knockout Thursday night at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, and the best is yet to come.
Hall and Savaliski, the husband-and-wife team who have dedicated themselves to keeping boxing alive in Anne Arundel County, may havefound a home at the Michael's Eighth Avenue facility.
Nearly 600 fans, including a few private VIP parties on the balconies, gathered Thursday night for dinner and boxing organized by Hall-Savaliski Round One Promotions and the Maryland State Boxing Commission.
Another show will be held at Michael's in late January.
Hall and Savaliski started promoting local boxing a few years ago at the Glen Burnie Armory in a hot dogs and beer atmosphere, moved to LaFontaine Bleu and now to Michael's.
Promoting a show at LaFontaine Bleu simply cost too much.
Expenses went right through the roof andin order to go on, the tenacious duo had to make a change.
Ridingin on a white charger came state Sen. Michael Wagner, who offered a deal at his relatively new wedding and banquet facility, one that would enable them to make a profit and keep things going.
The two gotinto promoting mainly because of Josh's insatiable love of the sportand the ex-pro middleweight's desire to give boxing credibility. Making a killing at the gate and in the cash box was never their ambition or they would have KO'd the idea long ago.
Big profits are not likely but decent profits are deserved because of the time and effort they put into their program to make it successful and enjoyable for local boxing fans. "We made some money, a small profit, but a profit for a change," Savaliski said after Thursday's event.
Hall and Savaliski own J. .J.'s bar in Point Pleasant and Josh has done well in real estate over the years, but boxing has always been his passion. It's been his goal since retiring from the ring as a member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame to one day own or at least lease a local gym for pro and amateur boxers.
Wagner recognized Hall's sincerity anddedication to the sport and made a decision to get involved. His savvy as a legislator and his businessman's street-smart sense told him that Hall deserved a legitimate shot to succeed -- though the move surprised Wagner's closest friends.
"When we were rebuilding this place (formerly a roller rink), Mike said he would never have boxing inhere," said the guy everybody calls Yogi. "But here we are. And I think most of us had a great time tonight, though we've got a few suggestions for the next show to make it even better."
Yogi was one of the VIPs upstairs, where guys like local contractor Bill Frye and characters like Clem King and Jimmy Strackey peered over the balcony or watched via closed-circuit TV.
How's that for big-time, Las Vegas-style entertainment?
One patron said he would like to see VCRs included at the next show so the guys can watch some Joe Louis or Muhammed Ali tapes during dinner.
There were a couple disappointments Thursday night, including the main event.
Eddie "Speedy" Van Kirk ofBaltimore was a big disappointment in his eight-round main event draw with Henry Hughes (12-3-1) of Cleveland. It was a lackluster bout that prompted the popular Van Kirk (23-7-2) to say afterward, "I stunk!"
It wasn't the kind of outing expected of the 29-year old Van Kirk, who is scheduled to get a shot at the World Boxing Federation Super welterweight crown early next year vs. Tommy Small of West Virginia.
A highlight of the evening was the first pro victory for Annapolis High grad Boyor "Sugar Boy" Chew, who lost his pro debut at LaFontaine Bleu last month. Sugar Boy spoiled the first pro match of Laurel's Joe "Zap" Blyther, taking a 2-1 split decision in four rounds of their junior light heavyweight slugfest.
"I'm hoping for a rematchwith Thompson (Aaron of Washington), who beat me my first fight, andJosh told me there is a good chance of that next show," said Chew, who also said he would consider moving to Ferndale to become a hometown hero at Michael's.
"I just might become Sugar Boy Chew of Ferndale," he said.
Sugar Boy and Joe "Zap" weren't the only colorful nicknames on the card. Mark Padeletti of Baltimore, who trains at the Harding-Lowry Gym in Pasadena along with Chew, scored a four-round split-decision over Washington's John "The Body Snatcher" Stewart.
The biggest boos went to Lorenzo Whitehead of Oxon Hill in Prince George's for wrapping his arms around the legs of Rockville's Chris Lucas.Referee Frank Kelly disqualified Whitehead.
Not every boxing cardcan be a crowd-pleaser, but the overall show and entertainment can be worth the price of admission.
"Overall it went very well, and we're looking forward to doing it again," said Scott Wagner, the senator's son who manages Michael's.