Baltimore middleweight (165 pounds) Mike Paschal returns to Du Burns Arena tonight, hoping to repeat a 2001 effort in which he captured his first regional Golden Gloves title.
"It was the same night that Hasim Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis. I remember it well. I was really nervous, and I knew that the guy I had to fight was physically strong. But once the bell rung, I was relaxed," said Paschal, a 23-year-old Pasadena resident who won via unanimous decision.
"The guy came out throwing big punches, but I didn't stand there and bang with him," he said. "I had to stick and move and that won the fight. I don't know if I felt as good as Rahman did, but it felt pretty good."
Paschal (54-12, 25 knockouts) hopes to revisit that championship experience tonight when he puts his 16-bout winning streak on the line against Mike Martinez, a U.S. Marine who is ranked No. 2 nationally by USA Boxing. The winner will earn a trip to the May 25-June 1 national Golden Gloves championships at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.
Paschal earned the trip to the nationals in Las Vegas in 2001, but the journey fell short of expectations. During his second victory - which earned him a berth in the quarterfinals - he suffered rib damage.
Tickets tonight are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and $35 ringside.