On a slow day last July, Adrian Davis said no one with the sense God gave him would want to step into the ring with Kenny Baysmore, the U.S. Boxing Association junior lightweight champion currently ranked seventh in the world. It was the kind of talk you hear in the gym after somebody brings up a word like history and the trainer calls for a drum roll.
"I'll tell you what," Davis said back then, "this kid can put it to you . . . He has the makings of a great, great champion."
That was less than a year ago, back when Baysmore was on a steady climb in national prominence and Davis, a former welterweight who now runs a gym in Hyattsville, had just accepted the chore of working the Washington fighter into contention for the world title. In that other time, all talk of Baysmore's future began with either, "I'll tell you what," or "Listen to me," or "Lemme tell you something."
Steady on the chartered course long held for him, Baysmore, 24, will make his national television debut today at 4 p.m. against Roger Mayweather, the former World Boxing Association champion. NBC (WRC-TV-4) will televise the scheduled 12-round bout from Tyler, Tex.
Baysmore, undefeated in 19 fights, hopes a win against Mayweather will put him in line for a title shot against champion Rocky Lockridge. That seems entirely possible, although Mike Trainer, the Silver Spring attorney who is handling Baysmore's career, said getting a spot on the network telecast first required he convince Ferdie Pacheco, the NBC announcer, that his fighter deserved the national audience.
"I had to hound Ferdie for over a year," Trainer, who also handled Sugar Ray Leonard's career, said. "I kept telling him, 'Come on, Ferdie, give the kid a shot.' I wanted to get Kenny on the network and let the world have a chance to see him . . . It's a fight guy's kind of fight, and it will be a good, natural test for Kenny."
Baysmore said: "If I win, there's no telling where I'll go. But my goal is still to take it all, and to take my time, step by step."
In his last bout, against Myron Taylor of Philadelphia, Baysmore recovered from an 11th-round knockdown and rallied in the 12th and final round to win the split decision. Two of the three judges awarded Baysmore a 10-8 score in the last round, indicating total dominance and giving him a slight edge in what turned out to be a pivotal title bout. Taylor would have won a majority decision had Baysmore not come on so strongly in the final round, and hopes for a big TV fight with Mayweather might have been scrapped.
"Kenny feels fortunate about getting this shot on national TV," Trainer said. "He's really the flip side of the Olympic gold medal kids who can pick and choose who they want to fight and when to get on a network show. But Kenny's got a lot of talent and a very promising future. With or without the gold, he's a heckuva fighter."
Mayweather lost his WBA title to Lockridge in February 1984, after taking a big overhand right and crumpling face down on the canvas. Trainer said the punch "was one of those that came from no place, before either fighter could really get warmed up." The end came only 1 minute 31 seconds into the first round.
"I saw some film on Mayweather," Baysmore said. "But not much. He's good. I've noticed the right hand."
Davis said, "I tell you what, recognition-wise, this is Kenny's biggest fight by far. All the country should be watching him. I know he's glad for the chance."