Pikesville middleweight Harris battles odds, Parks in title quest

April 16, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Percy Harris keeps his eyes riveted on the television in his Pikesville home, watching unbeaten middleweight Lamar Parks walk into a stinging combination by Donny Giron.

The sound on the videotape is turned off while Harris makes mental notes, occasionally jumping to his feet to pick off imaginary blows and throw counterpunches.

Suddenly, the silence is shattered. "I can beat this guy [Parks]," Harris shouts at a visitor. "I can knock him out. And when I do, it will put me on top of the boxing world."

Well, not exactly, but at least near the summit of the hTC middleweight division. Already the owner of the International Boxing Federation Intercontinental middleweight crown -- a title he won last December from Thomas Tate in Italy after taking the match on three days' notice -- Harris can capture the U.S. Boxing Association and North American Boxing Federation titles if he beats Parks in Madison Square Garden tonight.

But Harris (15-2, 9 KOs) knows he again is battling the odds. Parks (20-0, 16 KOs), of Greenville, S.C., has cast his boxing future with Madison Square Garden and Bobby Goodman, its boxing vice president and matchmaker.

And the Garden and its MSG cable network consider Parks, with his knockout potential, a hot property, a fighter to be nurtured into a star. Ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Council and No. 4 by both the IBF and World Boxing Association, he could be fighting for a world title before the year ends.

2& "I'm in no big hurry," Parks said.

"I just turned 22. I'm confident I can knock out [IBF champion] James Toney or [WBC champion] Julian Jackson when the time comes."

Parks has been knocking down everything in his path since his father, David, a former amateur boxer, bought him his first gloves at 12.

Goodman first began to pursue Parks after watching him knock out Chris Sande, a 1988 Olympic medalist who was being groomed by promoter Bob Arum.

"Arum was using Parks as a steppingstone for Sande, but the wrong guy got rocked," Goodman said.

This was not lost on Parks, who left Arum to sign a long-term contract in 1990 with Goodman and the Garden.

His perfect record is padded with victories over obscure foes, and his title victories over Lenzie Morgan and Giron were registered in Greenville.

But Goodman said Parks' high KO ratio belies his boxing ability.

"Every time I see Lamar in the gym, he shows me a new wrinkle -- an uppercut, hook or some new footwork," he said. "He's the best middleweight around. He could beat Toney and Jackson the same night."

Harris laughs at such a bold prediction.

"I heard the same hype when I was getting ready to fight Tate in Italy," he said. "He was also undefeated, and they were saying he was unbeatable. But I beat Tate the same way I'll beat Parks -- with my boxing ability, my experience, my jab and my reach," said Harris, who is 6 feet 3, unusually tall for a middleweight.

"And when I'm through, Bobby Goodman will have to find himself a new star."

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