Davis looks to son to ring up good news Trainer's year hasn't been best

November 19, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

This has not been the best of years for Laurel manager-trainer Adrian Davis, whose youngest of two fighting sons, Demetrius, battles Rockville middleweight Les Johnson in the feature bout at Martin's West on Tuesday night.

An outstanding welterweight in his own right in the 1970s, Davis is one of the more respected fight trainers in the Maryland area.

He recently was hired to resurrect the career of former welterweight champion Simon Brown, who pulled out of his title match with World Boxing Council junior-middleweight king Terry Norris hours before their pay-per-view fight in Las Vegas on Sept. 26. "That cost me at least $35,000," Davis said. Until recently, Adrian Davis also trained and managed unbeaten lightweight Sharmba Mitchell (26-0), the World Boxing Association's top-ranked contender who is also highly rated by the International Boxing Federation and WBA. "I've had Sharmba since he was 8 years old," he said. "You teach them everything you know, but when they smell the title, they think they know more than you. He's got a big ego, and I just couldn't control him anymore.

Adrian Davis' older son, Victor, also seemed primed for a title shot after defeating Baltimore's 154-pound contender, Vincent Pettway, in Philadelphia two years ago.

But in spring 1991, Victor, 25, sustained a detached retina that required laser surgery and kept him sidelined for 18 months. He made his comeback on a small club show last month, posting an unimpressive, eight-round victory over journeyman Willie Douglas.

And then there was the problem of finding a place to train his sons. For the past four years, Davis was the proprietor of Ring One in Cheverly, Md., one of the best-equipped boxing gyms in the state, where big-name fighters such as new heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe practiced their craft.

"Everyone wanted to work there," Adrian said. "It was a real modern facility that I rented for about $1,300 a month. But then my landlord told me I'd have to buy it or leave. He wanted over $200,000 and an immediate $50,000 payment as collateral.

"I just couldn't get the banks to go along."

So the Davis clan takes its boxing show on the road, training at a new gym in Crofton. That's where Adrian has been keeping a close eye on Demetrius, 22, whose dedication to boxing has been suspect since turning pro in 1987.

"I've been a goof-off," said Demetrius (9-2-1), while also admitting to past drug problems and run-ins with the law.

Last September in Glen Burnie, Demetrius appeared in his first main event. He filled in for his ailing brother, Victor, who had a rib injury, and knocked out Levon Rouse in six rounds.

"I finally realize boxing is my whole life," said Demetrius, who has been following his father to the gym since he was old enough to walk.

"I actually started fighting as a 4-year-old. I remember competing in some amateur tournament in Baltimore, weighing 40 pounds, and the gloves looked bigger than me."

Said Adrian: "Demetrius has all the tools to be a heck of a fighter. His punches are sharper than Victor's. With him, the biggest thing is mental -- wanting to do it. But I think Demetrius knows that beating Johnson [16-1, 12 KOs, rated No. 8 in the USBA rankings] will open up a lot of doors for both of us."

For ticket information, call (410) 528-1932.

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