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Champ Hopes To Jumpstart Career; Challenger Looking to Prove Himself

April 19, 1996

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) _ Time is running out for Virgil Hill’s quest for what he considers superstardom in professional boxing. But for Louis Delvalle, now could be the beginning.

Hill (41-1) will defend his WBA light heavyweight title Saturday night in Grand Forks, his hometown, against Delvalle (22-0). of New York.

This will be the 21st world title fight for Hill, 32, the winningest light heavyweight champion.

But, except for a 1990 bout against Thomas Hearns, his only loss, Hill has found stardom elusive.

``I have to try to be impressive in this fight for market value,″ he said. He hopes the Delvalle fight, the first of a four-bout contract with HBO, will give his career that extra push to the big money.

``Hopefully we’ll have a major fight, a real big-money fight, sometime this year,″ Hill said.

``There’s a lot of people that HBO has made superstars out of,″ said Hill’s manager Bill Sorensen, the mayor of Bismarck. ``We think it’s a start of big things. ... The rest of the world has taken note.″

Delvalle, a 26-year-old left-hander, has his own aspirations for stardom. Saturday’s fight is his first title fight.

``I have a chance to prove myself,″ said Delvalle, a former New York City Golden Gloves champion. ``This is the dream come true. I’m going to get him.

``I’m bringing everything to the table when I fight Virgil Hill,″ he added.

Delvalle grew up in Queens, which he says was good training.

``It’s one of the roughest projects in New York City,″ he said of his home.

``Boxing’s changed my life,″ Delvalle said. ``Boxing’s made me a better person. It made me a leader, not a follower. I just have a lot of respect for myself now, since I started boxing.″

Delvalle’s trainer, Victor Machado, said Devalle may be unknown now, but not for long.

``Nobody knows him,″ Machado said. ``That day you all will know him.″

Delvalle said fighting in Hill’s backyard inspires him. He decisioned Ali Saidi of Germany last year in Saidi’s hometown.

``If you can’t beat a guy in his backyard, you don’t deserve to beat him,″ Delvalle said.

The Grand Forks card also features heavyweight Buster Mathis Jr., who lost by knockout to Mike Tyson last December. Mathis (20-1) will be fighting Obed Sullivan 17-1-1) of Lancaster, Calif.

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