If you have a chance to visit the colorful, century-old Colorado Hotel in Glenwood Springs, Colo., check Room 323 for a sign that reads: "Chuck Sturm Slept Here."
The Baltimore junior-welterweight contender hopes to become a historic footnote along with such illustrious former hotel guests as Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, gunslinger Doc Holliday and Al Capone.
"This hotel has a million stories," Sturm said. "They claim it's haunted, but they also say they built all these secret tunnels in case Capone had to make a quick getaway."
If Sturm (28-3-1) can find his way 40 miles south to Aspen on Tuesday night, he will challenge Tony Boyle (24-3-1) of Philadelphia for the International Boxing Organization intercontinental 140-pound title.
The charity event, which also features an IBO 15-round super-middleweight title bout between Vinny Pazienza (35-5) of Providence, R.I., and Dan Sherry (22-5) of Toronto, will benefit the Aspen Boys Club. Tickets are priced at $1,000 and $1,500 for the 600 or so jet-setters attending promoter Don Elbaum's card in the Ritz Carlton ballroom.
"No, I haven't seen any celebrities," said Sturm, told that John Denver and LeRoy Neiman will be among the spectators. "I've been too busy training, and I'm sure not going skiing.
Sturm, a product of Frank Gilbert's Loch Raven gym, says he has sharpened his boxing skills under new trainer Bobby Brown.
"He's shortened my punches and given me better leverage," Sturm said. "Brown is always on my back, and that's a good change. I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm going to walk right through Boyle."
It sounds positively ghostly.
The pay-per-view show will be carried on cable networks serving Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Montgomery counties for $9.95 starting at 10 p.m.
Sharmba on way
Washington attorney Jeff Fried, who handles the financial affairs of former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, did an excellent job pleading the case of unbeaten Maryland lightweight Sharmba Mitchell (32-0) at the recent World Boxing Council convention in Las Vegas.
Delivering a passionate appeal to the WBC Board of Governors, Fried not only got Mitchell elevated to the No. 1 ranking, but also got a promise that the left-hander would meet second-ranked Levander Johnson (20-0) in an elimination fight to determine champion Miguel Gonzalez's next mandatory opponent.
Fried faced opposition from WBC president Jose Sulaiman, who was determined to pit Johnson, a Don King protege, against Gonzalez.
"Logic won out," Fried said. "Before I began my case, they had Johnson ranked ahead of Sharmba, even though Johnson hadn't fought anyone in their Top 10."
Fried noted that Mitchell was coming off consecutive first-round knockouts over Kenny Baysmore (No. 10) and Chad Broussard, who was unbeaten and ranked No. 4 before Mitchell flattened him in 2 minutes, 25 seconds.
"We hope that the WBC is giving us more than lip service and that we can fight Johnson by February," said Fried. "We've even asked King to promote it on the Feb. 5 show at Caesars Palace when Bowe fights [South Africa's] Francois Botha."
Mitchell also is ranked No. 3 by the International Boxing Federation, but IBF champion Fred Pendleton appears reluctant to fight him.
"We offered Pendleton $300,000 to fight Sharmba and he turned it down," Fried said. "The only thing I can figure is that he knows he can't win."
Local promoter Stuart Satosky has received clearance from ESPN and Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc. to stage a cable-TV fight at the Pikesville Armory in April.
Satosky hopes to head the card with Dana Rosenblatt (16-0, 14 knockouts) of Malden, Mass., who needed less than a round to dispose of Sean Fitzgerald on an ESPN show on Dec. 16. In his two fights here, Rosenblatt also registered quick knockouts of Ivory Teague and Dan Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Satosky is piecing together his Feb. 9 card at Martin's West. In the works is a junior-middleweight bout pitting Lou Duva protege Nick Rupa of Trinidad against Tommy Small of Sofia, W.Va.
For whom the bell toils
After watching the impressive pro debut of Washington middleweight Ruben Bell, who stopped Baltimore's Greg Smith in the third round at Martin's West on Nov. 30, Duva rushed to Bell's corner and apparently made an offer he couldn't refuse.
Bell, whose body-punching style resembles that of a young Jake LaMotta, will fight for Main Events Inc., headed by Duva's son, Dan, the promoter of Evander Holyfield and Pernell Whitaker.
A busy Brown
Maryland's Simon Brown, who staged one of the biggest upsets of 1993 by knocking out Terry Norris in Mexico on Dec. 18 to win the junior-middleweight crown, will be back in action, Jan. 29, when Don King opens the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas with a multi-championship card.
"We're looking for a suitable opponent," said King matchmaker Al Braverman. "It could be [fourth-ranked] Troy Waters of Australia.
Norris, who was close to a 10-1 favorite over Brown, is seeking a rematch, but probably will have to wait until the summer.
Also featured on King's show is a rematch between WBC superfeatherweight champion Azumuh Nelson and Jesse Leija, who battled to a draw in September, and IBF welterweight king Felix Trinidad defending his crown against Hector "Macho" Camacho, the former lightweight champ.
WBC super-lightweight champ Julio Cesar Chavez will defend his title against a yet unnamed opponent.
With the IBF threatening to lift Holyfield's title if he makes his first defense against WBC champion Lennox Lewis, it could steer Holyfield into an April match against unbeaten Michael Moorer, the IBF's mandatory challenger.
Moorer stepped aside once to allow Bowe to fight a rematch with Holyfield, who regained the crown. A Main Events Inc. spokesman said Holyfield probably will make his decision before New Year's Day.