Waller rides punch to rescue career Memorable recovery shows heart to fight

September 09, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Most fighters with recognizable talent and big ambitions can look back on a particular match as a defining moment in their professional careers.

Such was the case for youthful Virginia heavyweight Jason Waller (20-3-1, 14 KOs), who battles Joel Humm (16-6, 11 KOs) of Pittsburgh in the main event at Martin's West tonight.

For Waller, 22, the turning point came in Baltimore last November in a rematch against Scott Jones, whom he had decisioned a year earlier.

This time, Jones, using his superior quickness against an overweight Waller, piled up a convincing lead in the first seven rounds. Jones only needed to keep out of harm's way the final round to stage a major upset.

"I was so disgusted with my condition and performance, I was just about ready to quit in my corner before the final round," Waller recalled.

"Going into that fight, I was having a lot of management problems and worrying about how to support my wife and baby boy.

"My manager, Spencer Blanks, had promised me regular sparring partners, but never delivered. Two weeks before the Jones fight, my trainer, Smiley Haywood, returned to Philadelphia. I was training myself."

But Waller lifted himself off the stool in the eighth round and found a suddenly macho Jones looking to end the fight with a knockout.

"One thing I knew is that I could out-punch Jones," Waller said. "He got too brave. When he missed a punch, I caught him with a hard right. He sagged on the ropes, and when I kept hitting him, the referee stopped it."

Sports publicist Jamie King, a neighbor of Waller's in Stafford County, Va., watched this turnabout from a ringside seat. "Jason was clearly losing the fight," King said. "In that last round, he reached a point where he had to decide if he was going to just find a soft spot in the ring to lay down, or show that he had the heart of a champion."

Waller chose the latter course and convinced King, that with the support of a new management team, he could develop into a contender.

King introduced Waller to trucking executive Layton Fairchild, who bought out Blanks' contract, and now guarantees the fighter a living allowance, a regular trainer and a steady diet of sparring partners.

"We want to allow Jason to concentrate strictly on boxing," said Fairchild, who flunked two NFL try outs as a wide receiver. "I know how frustrating it can be to try to establish yourself professionally if you're using your energies on other pursuits. Jason was spending most of his time worrying about how to pay his rent and support his family."

An admitted novice to the manipulative sport, Fairchild has relied heavily on advice from Stuart Satosky, a Baltimore promoter who has signed a multi-bout deal with Waller.

"We don't want to rush Jason into anything," said Satosky, discounting rumors of matches with Boone Pultz and former Olympic champion Andrew Maynard.

"We'd like Jason to get down to the cruiserweight (190) class, win five or six more fights and make the world rankings. Then he'll be in a position to attract big money purses."

In the past, Waller's powerful right hand compensated for his lack of conditioning. "I was making a lot of bums look good before taking them out," he said.

FIGHT FACTS

Who: Jason Waller (20-3-1, 14 KOs), Stafford County, Va., vs. Joel Humm (16-6, 11 KOs), Pittsburgh, 10 rounds, heavyweights.

Co-feature: Dana Rosenblatt (14-0, 13 KOs), Malden, Mass., vs. Dan Mitchell, (15-21, 6 KOs), Pittsburgh, eight rounds, middleweights.

Where: Martin's West, 6800 Dogwood Road, Woodlawn.

When: Tonight, first preliminary bout 7:30.

Promoter: Stuart Satosky

PD Tickets: Ringside, $35; reserved, $25; general admission, $20.

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