It seems like forever since Laurel's Andrew Maynard stood on the victory platform in Seoul, clutching his Olympic gold medal and flashing his smile worldwide. His topsy-turvy career since that day in 1988 weaves through Baltimore tonight as the North American Boxing Federation light heavyweight title-holder faces veteran Robert Curry at Painters Mill Theatre.

Maynard's potential seemed to have no bounds when he returned home one of the more telegenic and likable U.S. athletes as well as one of the Games' most fiercesome boxers. He won his early professional bouts with ease and grace to rise through the ranks of his division.

Then came last June 24, when Maynard -- who was expected to dispense with overweight Bobby Czyz, his long career ebbing -- instead suffered his first defeat, bringing his career to a standstill.

"I'm glad it happened when it did," said Maynard, 26, who is 13-1 with nine knockouts. "It was a slowing down process when everyone expected me to blossom straight to the top."

His comeback began on the Oct. 25 undercard of the Evander Holyfield-Buster Douglas title fight, when he dispatched Keith McMurray in a 10-round decision. Tonight is Phase 2, against Curry (23-13, 8 KOs) of Clarksburg, W.Va.

Maynard's explanation for his career's stall is ironic -- he was moving along too rapidly before the Czyz fight, and moving away from what made him unstoppable as an amateur.

"A lot of my fights were going one or two rounds," he said. "I wasn't learning anything, couldn't show what I was learning. That's what was hurting me the most."

He spent much of his early professional career working with Jose "Pepe" Correa, longtime trainer of Sugar Ray Leonard. That is, when Correa was not busy working with the five-time champion, which was often. So while Leonard trains with Correa in Florida for his upcoming bout, Maynard is under the tutelage of Junious Hinton.

"Pepe was a boxer coach," Maynard said. "He'd want me to move, move, move. But boxing's a job -- you have to go in there and work. Pepe was also focused on Ray and preoccupied with a lot of other fighters. I needed more attention."

Notes: Tonight's seven-bout card will begin at 8 p.m. Palmer Park middleweight Kenny Whack (7-0), who decisioned Joe Varela on the Holyfield-Douglas undercard, will face Eric Holland (7-11) of Philadelphia. Undefeated junior middleweight Willie Gallowango (14-0, 12 KOs) of Baltimore will meet Mark Buchanon (10-2) of Norfolk. District welterweight Lorenzo Whitehead (0-1-1) will face Rockville's Glen Randolf (0-1).