- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

Sharmba Mitchell will make District boxing history tonight as the featured boxer in the first fight show ever at Constitution Hall. The charity boxing event benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"It will be strange fighting there,"Mitchell said. "I've been to concerts there before. It is an honor to be able to fight in a place with so much history and a place where so many great performers have played. I guess that puts me in great company."
The company Mitchell (47-3, 29 knockouts) wants to be in, though, is among the great boxing champions like Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. Tonight the former super lightweight world champion will take a return step toward that level when he faces Bernard Harris (21-14, 14 knockouts) in the main event.
"I want to get back to the top of the boxing world," Mitchell said.
The "Night of Champions" show, promoted by Peak Management Group Rock Newman, Nate Peake and Jeff Fried will feature celebrity guest ring announcers including restauranteur Tommy Jacomo, developer Doug Jemal, publisher Bill Regardie, Washington Redskin LaVar Arrington and Washington Wizard Chris Whitney.
Joining Mitchell on the card will be another local favorite, welterweight Jimmy Lange (15-1-1, 10 knockouts) of Great Falls, Va., against Gerald Reed (20-31-4, nine knockouts) and another welterweight battle, Marlon Haynes of Washington (11-4-1) against Baltimore's Charles Clark (14-8-1, six knockouts).
Mitchell, 31, who grew up in Takoma Park, was at the top a little more than a year ago, when he was the World Boxing Association super lightweight champion. He has successfully defended his title four times since October 1998 and was poised to emerge as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing.
He was scheduled to face the World Boxing Council 140-pound title holder Kosta Tszyu in February 2001 as part of a tournament to determine the unified super lightweight champion of the world.
But days before Mitchell went into the ring he suffered a knee injury that grew more severe as the fight grew closer. There was a fierce debate in his dressing room among his trainers and manager about whether or not he should fight, but Mitchell opted to face Tszyu.
Mitchell fought well, hurting Tszyu early and nearly fighting him even for seven rounds, even though he was a one-legged fighter and Tszyu was employing roughhouse tactics to take advantage of Mitchell's injury. The fight was stopped after seven rounds as a technical knockout for Tszyu, who had won the WBA title to go with his WBC crown.
Tszyu went on to knock out highly-regarded International Boxing Federation 140-pound champion Zab Judah to become the unified champion. Mitchell came back to Washington and had surgery on his left knee.
"I was prepared the best I could have been for that fight," Mitchell said. "If it wasn't for my knee, I probably would have knocked him out. I had him hurt, but I couldn't put weight down on my leg to get the punch off to get him out of there."
Mitchell has spent the past year rehabilitating the knee and working to get back into the ring. If he is successful tonight against Harris, he hopes to move up to a bigger fight against Mickey Ward or Arturo Gatti. Then, a rematch with Tszyu.
"He has nothing else to prove but a fight against me," Mitchell said. "He was getting beat, and he needs to fight me again to really show he is the undisputed champion."


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