Washington welterweight Maurice Blocker has won all his 20 professional fights, 19 of them in Atlantic City. Fighting here might give him an edge in tonight's North American Boxing Federation title fight against champion Pedro Vilella, but Blocker disagrees.
"I don't think it's an advantage fighting here," said Blocker, whose fight will headline the card, which begins at 8 o'clock at the Washington Convention Center. "A fight is a fight, no matter where I'm fighting. The advantage that I have is in my fists."
"It's not a matter of liking to fight in Atlantic City or here," said Jose Correa, Blocker's manager. "At the time we began to fight at Atlantic City, we had promotional ties at Atlantic City and we were there because that was where the money was at the time."
Blocker knocked out seven of his first 10 opponents there but has earned a knockout only three times in his last 10 fights. "The competition has gotten better as I am progressing," he said. "I've been trying not to bang as much. Before, I would bang a lot, matching strength for strength. I've been doing more boxing lately."
"What makes Maurice good is patience," Correa said. "He wasn't always very patient. He's not looking for (the knockout) anymore. This is what you call staying out of harm's way."
Vilella, of New York City, won the NABF title in an upset 12-round decision last year over then-champion Marlon Starling. He lost his bid for the World Boxing Council championship against Milton McCrory last March in 12 rounds. Vilella (18-2-1, five knockouts) will defend his NABF title for the first time against Blocker.
The fight could be one of the best matchups at the Washington Convention Center since Blocker was the co-feature on the center's first pro card, in June 1984. Blocker, 22, has been rated as high as the No. 5 contender by the World Boxing Association and WBC and No. 8 by the NABF. Vilella, 26, is ranked No. 9 by the WBC.
"It's a championship bout," Correa said. "(Vilella) is a champion. That's what this whole thing is about -- fighting for the championship . . . He has the title and he just happens to be in the way."
And when will Blocker fight for the world title? "I can't answer that," he said. "It's something that has to be discussed with my manager. I feel like I'm always ready. I feel like I was ready when I was 10-0. I always feel like I'm ready for the championship."
Washington's Simon Brown (20-0), another welterweight contender and a training partner for Blocker, also will fight tonight, against Randy Mitchum (27-13-1, 13 knockouts) of Lincolnton, N.C., in a 10-round junior middleweight bout. Brown is the No. 4 contender for the NABF title and the No. 5 contender for the WBC and WBA titles held by Donald Curry.