Cruiserweight Richard "Hardface" Mason has but one obstacle to overcome for his chance at a title fight: an opponent who once defeated top heavyweight contender and 1984 Olympic bronze medalist Evander Holyfield.
Mason, ranked third by the International Boxing Federation, takes on Dean Moore tonight at 7:30 at Rockville's Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in the fourth of a monthly series of cards at the hotel.
Mason (16-2-1, 13 knockouts) already has been signed to fight Californian Olian Alexander (20-4, 15 KOs) for the vacant United States Boxing Association cruiserweight title, but he'll face Alexander only if he wins tonight. That bout would lead a card in Rockville Sept. 25, the first championship fight held at the hotel.
Moore, from Forest City, N.C., is more concerned with his own future.
"A win could get me back on track. If I win, I expect to take his place" in the Sept. 25 bout, he said.
Promoter Don Elbaum said he would attempt to sign Moore (9-13, 3 KOs) for the title fight should he score an upset tonight.
Moore, in his final bout as an amateur, decisioned Holyfield in 1983. He said he would employ a similar strategy against Mason.
"I can move around the ring well, step around and counterpunch," he said. "I have to move my hands fast and just keep punching."
Mason, of Cincinnati, was originally scheduled to fight Moore two years ago but was forced to withdraw because of illness.
Elbaum added that the cards in Rockville have been financially successful, and that more may be added in the area.
"A hotel in Tysons Corner has contacted me to set up cards there," he said. "I'm a believer in the more the better. It helps develop local talent."
Also on tonight's card is Rockville heavyweight Phil Gilberti vs. Hagerstown's Sam Atkins (1-2). Gilberti scored knockouts in each of his first seven professional bouts and now is 11-4, his other victories via knockout as well.
District junior welterweight Tony Pressley (2-3) and Rockville light heavyweight Fabian Garcia (3-4) will make their Crowne Plaza card debuts.