At a time when 40-year-old former champions Larry Holmes and George Foreman are still ranked among contenders, it is surprising that a future young heavyweight with a 16-1 record can escape attention.
But that has been the case with Jade Scott, 24, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who will fight Marion Wilson (9-5), of Hillcrest Heights, Md., in the feature bout at Martin's West on Tuesday night.
A stylish boxer who gives a fair impersonation of Muhammad Ali with his quick hands and movement, Scott, 24, also packs enough pop in his punches to have stopped 14 opponents.
He is co-managed by Jim Fennell and Lou Duva, who has trained a number of champions, including Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker and Meldrick Taylor.
So how do you explain Scott's lack of exposure?
"Jade was just coming into his own, and we had a couple of fights scheduled," Fennell said, "when he experienced a freak setback."
According to Fennell, Scott began growing an extra tooth in the hinge of his jaw. It kept him out of the ring for four months this year and puzzled dental experts.
"The surgeon who operated on Jade last April said he had never seen anything like it," Fennell said. "He had to reconstruct Jade's whole jaw, and the rehabilitation took a long time."
Scott has fully recovered, and Fennell projects he will either be fighting for the cruiserweight title or in the heavyweight rankings by this time next year.
He is ranked No. 7 in the cruiser weight division by the International Boxing Federation.
"Jade is a natural 195-pounder, so he'll have no trouble making the cruiserweight limit, and he'll fight one of the champions if he gets the right opportunity," said Fennell, who also handles heavyweight Alex Stewart.
The cruiserweight class lacks distinction and recognition, and Fennell and Duva know the best place to strike it rich is among the heavyweights.
"God has blessed Jade with a 6-foot-3 frame, and he'll have no problem bulking up to 215, the same way Holyfield did in moving up from the light-heavyweight class," Fennell said. "But there is no rush for that."
Scott was labeled a prospect when he made the finals of the New York Golden Gloves five years ago.
"You could see he was a natural athlete," Fennell said, "the kind of kid who would also excel playing football or basketball."
But Scott chose boxing, and he breezed through his first 13 professional bouts against obscure club fighters before being fighting cruiserweight Nate Miller in July, 1992.
"Jade was winning the fight, but got too cocky," Fennell said.
"He thought he had Miller on the verge of a knockout, but we warned him not to get into a slugging contest."
Scott did not heed the advice, ran into a right hand in the seventh round and was counted out.
"You either build on a defeat or you go downhill," Fennell said. "I believe Jade learned his lesson, and with his new trainer [Tommy Brooks], he's become more skillful."
Asked to compare Scott and Stewart, who lost a title bid against Mike Tyson and went 12 rounds with Holyfield last summer, Fennell said, "They're two totally different fighters. Stewart has a shuffling style, looking for the knockout. Scott is up on his toes, looking to outbox his opponent. But he still has to improve his defense. He is still learning his craft."
Wilson has the reputation of being a "spoiler." He gave Derek Isaman his first loss in 15 bouts in May, 1992, and fought a draw with undefeated Gerald Jones in 1991.
* A state light-heavyweight title match between Jake Smith (10-3) of Arbutus and Fabian Garcia (10-5) of Gaithersburg tops the undercard. Garcia has won their two previous encounters. Promising local fighters Ed Griffin and Courtney Butler appear in preliminary bouts. Tickets are $15 to $35 and can be reserved by calling (410) 528-1932.