Baltimore's Ishmail Arvin is often at his best as an undercard fighter, stealing the thunder from the main event.
Tonight, Arvin (12-0-1, seven knockouts) will return to Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, where he is 8-0 with five knockouts. But this time, as the junior middleweight (154 pounds) main event, Arvin will be the one looking to make sure he's not upstaged.
For in addition to Arvin, 29, tonight's card features Washington super middleweight (168) Henry "Sugar Poo" Buchanan (10-0, 10 KOs); Niagara Falls, N.Y., junior welterweight (140) Nick Casal (10-0, 10 KOs); Paulsboro, N.J., heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon (5-0, four KOs); and Manassas, Va., junior middleweight Orazio Robinson (5-1-2, four KOs).
"Michael's is my home, so when I walk in the ring, it's always with the goal of trying to put on the best show," said Arvin, who will meet Elias Cruz (11-11, seven KOs) of Miami. "My plan is to look real good tonight, then fight once a month until I get a shot at a [U.S. Boxing Association or North American Boxing Federation] title belt in the next year or so."
In his first broadcast appearance on ESPN in Washington in August 2003, Arvin scored a bloody, unanimous decision over Detroit southpaw Leon Pearson that brought the crowd of 1,000 to its feet. It also usurped the limelight from junior middleweight Hector Camacho Jr.'s main-event decision over Bryon Mackie.
Arvin did it again in March 2004 at Michael's, when his third-round stoppage of Willie Lee of Gulfport, Miss., received a more favorable crowd response than that of ex-world champion heavyweight Hasim Rahman of Baltimore. Rahman still laments that night's lackluster, 10-round decision over journeyman Al Cole.
But Arvin looked a little rusty as the main event May 18 at the Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor hotel, when he ended a nine-month layoff with a unanimous decision over Richard Lee Hall of Rocky Mountain, N.C.
Also on the card, Ronald Boddie (15-28-4, seven KOs) of Philadelphia meets Buchanan, Arvin's close friend and routine sparring partner. Casal faces Martinus Clay (8-9, three KOs) of Wilson, N.C., and Robinson meets Larry Brothers (6-15-2, four KOs) of Washington. Witherspoon meets an opponent to be determined.