JOSH HALL'S UP OFF DECK, PREPARING FOR ANOTHER KO

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Leave it to Josh Hall to get back up off the deck and get in position for a knockout.

Hall, the former light heavyweight who is in theMaryland Boxing Hall of Fame, has been trying his hand at promoting and matchmaking with his wife, Victoria Savaliski, for the last couple of years.

They have had limited success with boxing-only shows at the Glen Burnie Armory and in Baltimore, and ditto for dinner and boxing showsat LaFontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie in November and January.

But a third such show at LaFontaine Bleu is scheduled for Thursday, and Hall is excited. The Point Pleasant resident can feel victory the way heused to in the ring and later as a Maryland arm wrestling champion.

"Boxing is coming back," said Hall. "We've had more advance ticketsales for this show than any other and the fans are showing that this is what they want -- dinner and boxing at LaFontaine Bleu."

In their two recent shows at the Glen Burnie hall that once was the localmecca for pugilism, Hall and Savaliski barely met expenses with the crowds around 500 at best.

Hall said on Saturday he's had close to600 advance sales, and still has buffet-dinner and fight seats available for $30 and will put a limited number of $20 fight-only tickets on sale at 8 p.m.

"I think in the first couple shows we put on at LaFontaine Bleu, people still had a bad taste in their mouths and stayed away," said Hall, referring to the collapse of Maryland Showcase and Classic Boxing Entertainment under Max Kisner of Brooklyn Park.

Kisner, with Hall as a match maker, started the feast and fists shows at LaFontaine Bleu a few years ago and after early knockout shows,got KO'd almost two years ago.

Out-of-town boxers and managers, who did not honor commitments and got away with it because of loose Maryland State Boxing Commission regulations, caused the demise of Kisner.

Back-to-back canceled shows resulted in financial disaster forKisner and big-time disappointment for local boxing fans.

So, it was no surprise that the fans didn't bang down the doors and fancy chandeliers at LaFontaine Bleu at Hall's two recent shows.

I guess you could say that a good number of them didn't want

to be let downagain and have been sitting back to see if Josh and Vicki could get it going again.

Thursday's advance sales indicate that they may have turned the corner, and boxing is back in Glen Burnie, this time tostay. Hall's knowledge of the sport and expertise in matchmaking along with Vicki's good business sense and organization promise a long run.

A good product also helps to keep a show like this going, and Hall feels the fans won't be disappointed Thursday night.

Aside from the main event, there is a Hammer and Snake matchup of two locals,the return of an Annapolis boxer, an exciting young scrapper from Pasadena, a pro debut and six bouts in all.

The main event pits undefeated Marion Wilson of Hillcrest Heights, D.C., against seasoned Bruce Johnson of Columbus, Ohio, in a 195-pound cruiserweight battle.

The 26-year-old Wilson comes in at 5-0-1, while the 29-year-old Johnson is 7-11 but much better than his record indicates.

"Bruce has fought and lost to four fighters in the top 20 in the world," said Hall of Johnson, who is scheduled for eight rounds against Wilson.

"Johnson fought a tough fight not too long ago against Art Tucker, oneof the top cruiserweights around. And in Wilson he's getting quite aphysical specimen."

At 182 pounds the show has what could safely be called a co-main event with light heavyweight locals Cliff "the Hammer" McPherson of Glen Burnie and Meade High grad Jake "The Snake" Smith dying to get at each other.

You see, at the Jan. 10 show at LaFontaine Bleu, after scoring a controversial majority decision over Ron "Powerhouse" Preston of Pittsburgh, the Hammer grabbed the ring announcer's microphone and publicly dared Jake the Snake -- who was inthe audience -- to jump in the ring with him in March.

Smith, whonow resides in Arbutus, had been in semi-retirement since losing to Fabian Garcia in Baltimore almost a year ago and was shocked by the public challenge.

It didn't take the Snake long to slither his way up to the ring and accept the Hammer's challenge. It goes without saying that the two light heavyweights vowed to knock each other out andnot let it go the six-round distance.

Smith comes in at 5-2-1 with quite a local following, and McPherson, who is a nationally ranked kick boxer, is 2-2 and will be equally represented by local fans.

The Snake and Hammer matchup could be wild if the two back up their verbal war with a physical barrage. We will see how badly they really do want each other and if McPherson gets

snaked or Smith gets hammered.

The Round One Promotions card also will mark the comeback ofonce-promising and classy Annapolis fighter George Pindell. Pindell,who is trained by Maryland Hall of Famer Charlie Holloway and his sidekick, Dominic Baccula, has been out of the ring for 2 1/2 years.

Despite the layoff, Pindell does have age on his side. The AnnapolisHigh grad is only 25 years old and has a career record of 7-2. Injuries and personal problems resulted in Pindell unlacing his gloves andputting them on the shelf for a while, but he's anxious to get back against 3-1 Bernard Grant of Cleveland, Ohio, in a six-round, 142-pound junior welterweight bout.

Also, in the same junior welter division, Pasadena's own Mark Padelletti returns to LaFontaine Bleu for his second pro scrap against a boxer to be announced this week.

Padelletti made his pro debut on Hall's January card and delighted the local fans by giving Baltimore's Sammy Hunter a whipping before the referee stopped the bout in the fourth and final round.

Joel LaFonte of Hillcrest Heights will be this show's rookie, as he makes his pro debut opposite Richard DeJesus (1-0) of Wilmington, Del., in a scheduled four-round junior lightweight bout.

LaFonte and DeJesus are expected to weigh in at about 128 pounds.

The sixth bout is in the 147-pound division with Reggie Little of Hillcrest taking on George Taylor of Palmer, Ohio, in a scheduled six-rounder.

Little is unbeaten in four fights with one draw, while Taylor is 3-3. The bout looks like a pretty good one.

Josh and Vicki hope they all are pretty good and hope that the bell will keep on ringing for them at LaFontaineBleu.

For those of you who have asked because it obviously makes your night and determines where you sit, yes, Gia Marie and Rene willbe back as ringcard girls. You can start hooting and hollering now if you want.

And if you want any other information or tickets for the Round One Promotions Show call 760-2699.

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