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Published: Saturday, 5/19/2001

Boxing ring goals of Owens get 1st test tonight

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

In his wildest dreams, Toledo heavyweight Terry Owens pictures himself boxing in front of a capacity crowd at the new Mud Hens stadium.

Even though the 21-year-old will make his professional debut tomorrow in Florence, Ind., against Charles Judge, the unabashed Owens insists a heavyweight title is not far off.

“I'd like to be defending a heavyweight championship about this time next year in the new stadium,” Owens said. “I take special pride in where I'm from. I'd like to bring something back home for the Toledoans.”

Hal Burke, who manages Owens, said the youngster is “a big kid” who'll be “well-known someday.

“He has some lofty goals,” Burke said. “We've goofed around about him winning championships and fighting in Toledo. But this kid has talent that has been built up. His accomplishments as an amateur make those aspirations ring true.”

Owens started boxing at 14 under the guidance of his long-time trainer Delmon Smith. Owens, who was a student at Libbey High School, honed his skills at a gym operated by Smith under the name of the New Union of Blacks to Improve America.

“He wandered into the gym, and just looking at the kid I knew he had potential,” Smith said. “Now I train him exclusively.”

The two have since moved to Atlanta, and under Smith's tutelage, Owens compiled a 40-4 record as an amateur in the light heavyweight and heavyweight classes.

“The way promoters look at him, they genuinely believe he has what it takes,” Smith said.

Another sign of Owens' potential is revealed in his accomplishments as an amateur fighter. Owens is a two-time National Junior Olympic Champion (1995-96) in the light-heavyweight division. In 1997 Owens won the heavyweight title in that event; that same year Owens won the silver medal at the World Junior Championships.

Most recently, Owens lost a 2-1 decision to the United States' Olympic representative, Michael Bennett, at the Olympic Trials last year.

Those feats landed Owens a promotional deal with the group America Presents. That organization, based in Las Vegas, promotes fighters such as Hector Camacho, both junior and senior, and heavyweight David Tua.

“The (boxing) business has a reputation for being on the mischievous side,” Burke said. “But their motto is `Reforming the sport.'”

Smith, who has become a father figure to Owens, said the young boxer's most significant accomplishment thus far was his second-place finish in the World Junior Championships in 1997. He finished second to a Cuban boxer in Havana.

“Professional fighting is a whole different ball game,” Smith said. “There's no more head gear and there's no longer a rush to throw a thousand punches per round, which is a must as an amateur. He'll have to take time and score quality blows.”

Owens' debut is part of a card that includes Freeda Foreman, the daughter of former heavyweight champion George Foreman. The event will be shown on the Fox Sports Network at 6 p.m., but it is unclear whether Owens' bout will be televised.



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