Almost every time veteran matchmaker Josh Hall has booked George Barksdale for one of Scott Wagner's boxing shows at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, he has predicted a long, hard night for the Baltimore light heavyweight.
Most recently, he matched Barksdale against fellow Marylander Walter Linkins, who was coming off a solid victory. The fight lasted less than two minutes when a left uppercut by Barksdale left Linkins stretched out on the canvas.
"I keep judging Barksdale by his days as an amateur when I saw him stopped by Carlos Diaz," said Hall. "I guess I've learned my lesson. He punches with a lot of authority."
Barksdale (5-0, 4 KOs) is scheduled to meet journeyman Arnold Fountain (4-13-4) in a six-rounder at Michael's tonight. His explosive power has established a strong fan base.
"I've knocked guys out with hooks, uppercuts and overhand rights. I don't favor any one punch," Barksdale said.
A misspent youth and drug problems led to a four-year prison sentence for the West Baltimore native.
"I was in and out of trouble growing up," he said. "But now I've got my life in order. I've got two jobs -- my day job working as a mechanic and my night one training in Mack Lewis' gym."
After a brief 13-fight amateur career, Lewis felt Barksdale was ready to turn professional.
"It was too hard getting him fights as an amateur," said Lewis. "He was a lot like [current heavyweight contender] Hasim Rahman. No one wanted to fight him."
Barksdale was 24 when he appeared in his first pro bout last year, a rather late start for a ring career. But the fighter does not view this as a deterrent.
"You can never really make up for lost time," he said. "You've just got to make the best of what you got left. I just count my blessings every day I wake up."
Barksdale also downplays his lack of experience.
"Being able to punch can make up for a lot of things," he said. "When I was a kid and 140 pounds, I could drop neighborhood guys with a single punch. I've still got that ability."
He has also benefited from being a regular sparring partner of former junior middleweight champion Vincent Pettway.
"He's totally dedicated to boxing," Lewis said. "A lot of guys want to know who they're fighting next. Barksdale will fight anyone I put him in with -- in the gym or on fight night."
But Barksdale has a timetable.
"Fighting is too stressful and can destroy you," he said. "If I'm not in line for a championship by 30, I'll get on with my life. But I've got the heart and will to win. I know when l leave the ring, it will be something worth remembering."
NOTES: Former heavyweight champion Michael Spinks will attend tonight's show to scout unbeaten junior lightweight Jermaine Fields (11-0) for promoter Butch Lewis. Washington junior middleweight Gary Jones (8-0), a Ray Leonard protege, meets Anthony Perry (8-4-2) of Virginia Beach, Va., in the feature bout.
Pub Date: 11/12/98