George Khalid Jones and Denise Scottland forever will be linked by June 26, 2001 -- the tragic day that transformed both of their lives. Last night, at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, they met in person for the first time.
Jones, a 37-year-old 173-pounder from Paterson, N.J., fought Silver Spring's Darnell Wilson to a controversial draw in the main event of a "Ballroom Boxing" card. But Jones likely would not have been there had it not been for the remarkable and unlikely friendship he and Scottland have forged to deal with their grief.
On that July night three years ago, Jones fought Scottland's husband, Beethavean Scottland of New Carrollton, in a scheduled 10-round bout. Jones won the brutal fight with a technical knockout in the final round. Afterward, Beethavean Scottland fell into a coma from the punishing head shots he absorbed. Six days later, he died from his injuries.
Tortured by guilt, Jones considered retiring. But two or three months after the fight, Denise Scottland, who lives in Silver Spring, decided to call Jones. It was partly to continue her healing process and partly because she knew Jones's anguish would be as great as hers -- if not greater. She wanted to tell him she did not hold him responsible.
"It was just something I had been wanting to do," she said. "Once I got to the point in life where I got a grip on things, I called to see how he was doing."
The call, and phone conversations that followed, helped Jones go on, and last night Denise Scottland watched him for the first time. She cheered him heartily and shared his disappointment with the judges' decision. "He got robbed," she said.
Judge Don Risher scored the bout 96-94 in favor of Jones, judge Ken Chevalier scored it 96-95 for Wilson and John Gradowski had it 95-95.
Jones (19-2-1), who is ranked No. 5 among light heavyweights by the World Boxing Association, said he wanted a rematch. Wilson (16-1-3), who said he thought he won the fight "by a round," said he would be happy to oblige.
Wilson, a crowd favorite making his 12th appearance at Michael's, suffered a cut around his right eye in Round 2 from a head butt, but said that was the only time he was hurt.
"He was in a lot of trouble," said Wilson. "He hit me clean, and I walked right through his punches."
Boxing Notes: Washington 115-pounder Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson was at Michael's last night and said he has a deal in principle to fight Luis Perez in a super flyweight unification bout. Johnson, a three-time world champ, owns the World Boxing Organization title, while Perez owns the International Boxing Federation belt.
"It's done," Johnson said. "All we have to do is sign it and add up the dos and don'ts about the money."
There is question as to when it will take place. Johnson said he expected it to be on the undercard of the Felix Trinidad-Ricardo Mayorga fight on Oct. 2. But it could take place on Nov. 13 as part of a card Baltimore's Hasim Rahman discussed last night. Rahman, also at Michael's, said he would be fighting an undetermined opponent -- possibly James Toney or Evander Holyfield -- in an event that included two heavyweight title bouts.