Perhaps it was the presence of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier at ringside, but Glen Burnie lightweight Chuck Sturm reverted to his pit-bull style of fighting to win a unanimous decision over Tony Rutledge of Columbus, Ohio, in the eight-round main event at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie last night.
Sturm, fighting for the first time in 19 months after suffering optic nerve damage to his right eye, also might have been trying too hard to impress his fans, some 500 strong.
He dominated the fast-paced match with his body attack, but the rustiness was clearly in evidence as he failed to land more than a handful of solid shots.
Despite his 8-35 record, Rutledge, whose losses include fights with former champions Ray Mancini and Jimmy Paul, was not here merely to collect a paycheck. He stood toe-to-toe with Sturm throughout the bout, but simply lacked the power to stall Sturm's head-on assault.
Judge Larry Barrett favored Sturm, 79-74, Ray Klingmeyer ruled it 78-74, and Terry Moore gave Rutledge credit for his gameness with his 77-75 scorecard.
"I'd rate my performance about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10," said Sturm (24-3-1), who was 12th in the USBA lightweight rankings ** before losing his last bout to Vinny Burghese in November 1990.
"The hardest thing about fighting after such a long layoff was getting my punches off," added Sturm, who was a state champion wrestler at Old Mill in 1982 and 1983. "I should have been busier inside, but that comes with inactivity."
These sentiments were echoed by Sturm's manager, Frank Gilbert.
"Chuck was a bit rusty," he said. "His timing was only about 85 percent. But we were very cautious in training him for this fight. We didn't want to risk a cut, so we kept his sparring to a minimum.