Heavyweight Jed Phipps is known as a big puncher, having knocked out 20 opponents in his 35 victories against five defeats. Phipps, who fights out of Jake "The Snake" Smith's Baltimore Boxing Club, lives for the big bout and doesn't shy away from competition.
On occasion, though, the 23-year-old concrete laborer by day does avoid one person after long workdays: his 2-year-old daughter, Melissa. It's the only way he can keep the upstart toddler in her "terrible twos" from trying to follow him out the door to his evening workouts.
"She doesn't come to my fights, but she knows and loves the gym as `ding-ding' - that's her name for it," said Phipps, considered to have "natural hitting power."
"Sometimes, the only way I can get away is either to go straight to the gym from work or to sneak away," said Phipps, who plans to turn professional in September. "When I come home, she's always running around, going, `Ding-ding, Daddy, ding-ding.'"
Daddy hopes to ring up his 36th victory against tonight's opponent, Mark Edward of the Round One Gym, in a Maryland Golden Gloves title bout at Du Burns Arena in Canton.
The winner earns a berth in the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia Regionals on April 21, also to be held at Du Burns, with the long-range goal of competing at the nationals in Reno, Nev., in early May.
"I don't see Jed losing if he performs at the level I know he's capable of," said Smith, Phipps' trainer, who likes his fighter's nightly work ethic of weightlifting and five miles of roadwork.
Professional cruiserweight Courtney Butler, who recently lost a bout to former world champ James Toney on ESPN2, has his hands full with Phipps in sparring sessions, according to Smith.
"Jed can hit like a truck," said Smith, who said a national title could earn Phipps the respect of former Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney, expected to be on hand tonight to scout Phipps with the intention of training him when he turns professional.
Phipps, a 1996 graduate of Carver A&T in Baltimore County, showed his potential in June, upsetting a highly touted fighter from Wisconsin before being eliminated in a controversial decision to a member of the Army team in his next bout.
"After winning his first fight, he was looking past the next guy. Even though he had the kid knocked down, he got robbed. Everyone knew it," Smith said. "The guy [his opponent] even came over afterward and told Jed that he thought Jed won."
The undercard will include 16-year-old light heavyweight Brad Scott (10-5, six KOs), who scored an eight-second knockout in his last fight in February at the Rosedale Gardens in Rosedale. Scott, a regional champ, also fights out of the Baltimore Boxing Club.
Female boxer Angel McNamara, 24, will also compete in a 139-pound fight against an opponent to be determined.
Tickets are $20 at the door, which opens at 7 p.m. The first bout will start at 8. For more information, call 410-375-9175.