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Published: Thursday, 11/16/2000

Ex-Rocket goes from gridiron to ring


Professional boxing returns to Toledo for the first time in four years Saturday night when promoter Harry Cummins brings a seven-bout card to the SeaGate Centre beginning at 7 o'clock.

The main event will be a 10-round heavyweight battle between former University of Toledo football standout George Linberger (18-5-1) and Troy Weida (35-4-2) of Indianapolis.

Linberger, 31, now a director for the alternative educational program in Twinsburg, O., was a center and guard at UT from 1986-89 who earned All-Mid-American Conference and Rocket MVP honors as a senior.

A Cleveland native, Linberger had only dabbled in the ring until winning the Toledo Toughman Contest in 1989. He turned pro in 1992, and 17 of his career wins have been by knockout.

“I'm a straight-ahead guy,” Linberger said of his in-your-face style. He is realistic about his ring goals. “I'm looking to take this as far as I can. I'm not going to be fighting Lennox Lewis. I'm just looking for some good paydays, and to get out of it with my faculties still in order.”

Linberger had a six-bout winning streak that was snapped late last year, but rebounded in his last fight with a knockout over Demetrius Lydell in Akron in March.

Cummins, whose last pro card at SeaGate was in December of 1996, said that 80 $30 ringside seats remain, as well as well as 800 $20 general admission seats.

Cummins said he felt Toledo's amateur programs have undergone a resurgence, highlighted by the national heavyweight Golden Gloves championship won by Start High graduate Devin Vargas earlier this year, and that pro events like this in Toledo are the next step in showing the younger amateurs that they have something to aspire to.

Saturday's schedule opens with four four-round bouts - the pro debut of Toledo cruiserweight Sam Hawkins against Tyron Austin (1-3) of Ashtabula, O.; junior lightweights Jan Khadarov (0-0) of Russia and Andre Dotson (0-0) of Cleveland; a lightweight bout between former Waite High student Jim Miller (2-0) and Jalal Sobh (1-0) of Dearborn, Mich.; and Toledo heavyweight Steve Davidson's pro debut against Malcolm Holmes (0-2) of Detroit. Davidson, a Minnesota native, is the reigning Toledo Toughman champion.

In a six-rounder, heavyweight Kevin Montiy (2-0), of Flat Rock, Mich., will face Richard Summers (1-3). Before the main event will be an eight-round junior welterweight bout between John Bailey (16-6-1) of Weirton, W.Va., and New Yorker Luis Castillo (10-6-1).

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