The feud between Scott Jones and Jason Waller will never reach the legendary proportions of Zale vs. Graziano, Ali vs. Frazier or Leonard vs. Duran, but on a club-fight level, these two cruiserweights are creating their bit of boxing lore.
Waller, a farm boy from Stafford, Va., and Jones, a security guard from Baltimore, will meet for the third time in the 10-round main event at Martin's West tonight.
When they last fought in the same ring 14 months ago, the fight carried over into the dressing rooms, and county police had to be summoned to quell a potential riot.
The record book shows Waller (21-4, 13 KOs) having won their previous two fights, but it is hardly that simple.
Waller claims he didn't deserve to win a unanimous six-round decision in their first scuffle March 1991.
"Jones beat me that night," he said. "The judges didn't even give him the first round when he knocked me down."
Said Jones (7-4, four KOs), "The worst I should have got was a draw."
But that served as a mere warm-up for the wild rematch at Martin's West last December. The shorter, lighter Jones dominated the first seven rounds.
He needed simply to stay out of harm's way the final three minutes to gain the decision, a strategy his veteran manager-trainer, Mack Lewis, emphasized before the last round.
"I got overanxious," said Jones. "In the back of my mind, I remembered how the judges robbed me the first time. I didn't want to leave it in their hands again."
So Jones turned macho and tried to finish the job. Instead, he walked into a crushing right cross by Waller that left him rubber-legged on the ropes.
"He got careless, and I nailed him," said Waller. "I kept hammering him for about 20 seconds. He was out on his feet when the referee [Chris Wollenson] stopped it."
Jones' stablemate, junior middleweight contender Vincent Pettway, felt Wollenson had acted hastily since less than 20 seconds remained in the bout.
Pettway jumped in the ring and vociferously voiced his displeasure. He allegedly bumped the referee, an action that would lead to a hearing and $5,000 fine by the Maryland Athletic Commission.
But the protest would not end there. When the fighters passed each other in the dressing-room area, heated words were exchanged. Just when things appeared to cool down, Jones' assistant trainer, Billy Foust, took after Waller and the fighting resumed.
The police were called and order finally was restored.
"No, there's no bad blood," said Jones. "We've seen each other since, and we got along fine. We'll settle it in the ring."
Said Waller: "Yeah, that's right. We were just doing a little wrestling after the fight. It was the outsiders who created all the trouble."
To Lewis, all the extracurricular activity would never have occurred if Jones had followed his instructions to move and box the final round.
"That was Scott's big chance," Lewis said.
"At the time, Waller was ranked among the top 10 cruiserweights by the International Boxing Federation. If Scott had beaten him, he would have been world-ranked."
Said Jones: "I've blown a lot of chances. This time, I'll use my head as well as my heart."
Waller, who has been constantly battling the scales, dropped out of the IBF rankings after his fight with journeyman Joel Humm last September ended in a technical draw after Humm was butted in the first round.
More recently, Waller was knocked out in one round by unbeaten Samson Po'uha.
Waller and his new manager, Layton Fairchild, concede taking the Po'uha fight was a mistake.
"We got ahead of ourselves in making that match," said Fairchild, a Virginia trucking executive.
"I wanted the money and TV exposure," said Waller. "But this guy was a Samoan giant. I've got no business fighting big heavyweights. I'm sticking to the cruiserweight [190 pounds] class."