- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Big-time boxing returns to Washington tonight when one of the area's former world champions continues his comeback on a nationally televised card from the Lincoln Theater.
Former World Boxing Association super lightweight champion Sharmba Mitchell will face Frank Houghtaling (17-7-5) in the main event, to be televised on ESPN2's "Tuesday Night Fights." Also appearing on the show, promoted by PMG Inc., will be lightweight contender Lamar Murphy (26-6) vs. Jesse Gutierrez (17-6). Another local fan favorite, featherweight James Baker (12-2-3), will go up against undefeated Carl Johanneson (10-0), plus there will be several other fights, including a women's bout featuring Lakeysha Williams against Julia Day.
"We look forward to bringing District fight fans another great evening of boxing," said Nate Peake, president of PMG.
This will be the second fight for Mitchell (48-3, 29 knockouts) since he lost his WBA crown in February 2001 to World Boxing Council title holder Kostya Tszyu, who went on to become the undisputed 140-pound champion by defeating International Boxing Federation champion Zab Judah.
Going into the fight against Tszyu, Mitchell suffered torn ligaments in his left knee while training, and he entered the ring that night with his left leg numb. He managed to fight to the eighth round and in fact was beating Tszyu, according to many ringside observers, although the judges had Tszyu slightly ahead when Mitchell could no longer continue.
Mitchell, from Takoma Park, took more than a year off recovering from knee surgery. He had his first fight in March at Constitution Hall in the District, winning a tough unanimous decision over Bernard Harris. He has been working since to get back to the shape he was in when he held the 140-pound title.
"I've been doing a lot of boxing to get the kinks out, just to get back to doing the things that I've always done and doing them well," Mitchell said. "It's hard to stay off for a year and then to get back into fighting shape. Staying in shape and being in the gym in fighting shape are two different things."
Mitchell said he is in fighting shape now and is hoping a win tonight will lead to a major fight on Showtime, perhaps against Mickey Ward or Arturo Gatti or even a rematch with Tszyu.
"There is nothing I want more than to fight for the title again," Mitchell said. "I'm glad to give area fans a chance to watch me while I patiently await the opportunity."
Mitchell also said he hopes he will have two more fights at 140 pounds, then move up to the 147-pound welterweight division. He made his pro debut in 1988 as a lightweight (135 pounds) and has been fighting at 140 pounds since 1994.


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