Thursday boxing card to test fan support


September 19, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Pro boxing in Anne Arundel County is at the crossroads.

Pro boxing returns to La Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie on Thursday night with a scheduled 54 rounds presented by Cliff "The Hammer" McPherson and Robert Ryan of Hammer Promotions.

Butch "The Bounty Hunter" Kelly (7-11-1) will meet John "King Bee" Keys (7-17-1) in the eight-round main event billed as the Maryland state cruiserweight (185 pounds) title.

It's one of 10 scheduled bouts and could be either the resurgence of boxing interest in the county or the downfall of the sport.

There is no question that McPherson and Ryan are competing with Josh Hall and Victoria Savaliski and Round One Promotions.

Hall and Savaliski have been holding dinner and boxing shows at Michael's for the past two years while McPherson has dabbled in kick-boxing shows at Michael's. Neither has done as well as they hoped.

La Fontaine Bleu is where it all began on Aug. 5, 1987 as the novel idea of dinner and pro boxing was first introduced to the county. Promoter Max Kisner, co-promoter Savaliski and matchmaker Hall made the inaugural a happening as more than 900 fans showed up.

After a near-four-year run at La Fontaine Bleu, Kisner packed it in and the Hall/Savaliski team began promoting dinner/boxing shows at La Fontaine Bleu before moving to Michael's in November 1991.

Nearly 600 fans showed up the first night at Michael's to watch Baltimore's Eddie Van Kirk battle Cleveland's Henry Hughes to an eight-round draw in the main event.

Hall attempted to stage his first arena show at Michael's in July, but got little support and went back to dinner and boxing on Sept. 2 with just under 500 posting.

"I think we can draw with seats and concessions because we've got an exciting card," said McPherson, who has boxed at both La Fontaine Bleu and Michael's but is best known for his kick-boxing exploits.

McPherson is an IKF World Champion kickboxer.

Tickets to the Hammer's show are $25 for ringside and $20 for reserved seats.

The big question is, has boxing interest waned? Will Anne Arundel County fans support pro boxing are

na-style as in the old days ('70s and early '80s) when they packed them in at Teamsters Hall and Unity Hall in Dundalk?

We will get the answer Thursday night. It's only three weeks since the last show at Michael's, and you have to wonder if people will pay for a steady diet of boxing shows featuring many of the same fighters.

The promoters could KO themselves with a parade of recycled fighters running up and down Crain and Ritchie highways.

Besides the Kelly-Keys main event Thursday, Hammer promotions has two other eight-rounders scheduled, one of which features the host himself. McPherson (3-6) will duke it out with Carlton West (9-22) of Portsmouth, Va., in the super-middleweight division (181 pounds).

Meade High alumnus Jake "The Snake" Smith (8-3-1) is scheduled for eight rounds against journeyman Cecil "The Cobra" Sims (5-14-1) in the light-heavyweight division (168).

Two other familiar names on the card are Boyor "Sugar Boy" Chew (5-3) of Annapolis and Eddie Sauerhoff (2-6-2) of Pigtown. The 172-pound Chew will go against Gesses Mesagna (3-1-1) of Washington in a scheduled six-rounder.

Sauerhoff, a 147-pounder, takes on Detroit's Glen Smith, who is making his pro debut.

Glen Burnie's Mark Owens, a kick boxer, also is making his pro boxing debut against an opponent from Detroit yet to be named.

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