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RALSTON FIGHTS TO KEEP CAREER MOVING FORWARD

Two years ago, Les Ralston was considered Western New York's best-kept boxing secret.

Now his entire career seems to have gone underground. The middleweight from Sweet Home High has fought only twice in the past 19 months, and if he has any immediate plans to rekindle his career he's not ready to say.

"It's been slow this last little bit of time, but things are coming along right now," Ralston said. "There will be a lot of important stuff in the near future, a lot of good things coming up."

When asked to provide specifics, Ralston could only offer that he hoped to make an announcement in early April and be in the ring a few weeks later.

"We're negotiating with a few people, but nothing is on paper as a scheduled fight," he said. "We're looking for something next month."

Ralston was on the verge of breaking out last May. He landed a nationally televised bout on NBC and was a candidate to get a spot on the network's reality boxing show, "The Contender." Ralston was tentative against Sergio Mora and lost an eight-round decision. Mora was one of the 16 boxers chosen for "The Contender." Ralston was passed over.

"I was hoping to be on 'The Contender,' but we'll leave those things in the past," Ralston said. "Larger things are about to happen."

Ralston is 14-1 with seven knockouts. He hasn't fought since July, when he earned a lopsided six-round decision over Daniel Neal in Rochester. Neal has had seven bouts since, losing six of them.

Before beating Neal, Ralston's previous victory was a six-round decision in July 2003 over Robert Muhammad, a shopworn fighter with an 8-34-1 record. Ralston handed Muhammad his 14th straight loss en route to dropping 21 of his past 22 bouts.

Ralston fought nine times in 2002, four times in 2003 and twice in 2004. He has yet to fight in 2005 and doesn't have any bouts scheduled. He said he has had to be careful in recent months because of rotator cuff and hand injuries.

Another reason Ralston's career has stalled has been his inability to procure influential representation. He doesn't have a promoter. He's trained and managed by his father, former light heavyweight contender Jimmy Ralston.

The Ralstons also lost a steady diet of work when South Carolina promoter Bobby Mitchell in February was sentenced to 37 months in prison for fight fixing. Mitchell provided Les Ralston 12 of his first 13 pro fights, all in the Carolinas. There never has been suspicion Mitchell orchestrated any of Ralston's bouts.

The Ralstons have secured only three dates -- his pro debut and both 2004 fights -- without Mitchell's help.

Williamsville lightweight Hector Alejandro has two upcoming bouts scheduled: a six rounder April 8 in Miami and an eight rounder May 12 in Baltimore. His opponents haven't been decided.

Alejandro has won seven straight fights and is 9-1 with six KOs, but he hasn't fought since September. His promoter, Rick Glaser, said his 25-year-old client has had six proposed fights canceled because of a hand injury or recurring battles with the flu.

Niagara Falls junior welterweight Nick Casal is tentatively scheduled to fight his second six-round bout next month. Casal made his six-round debut Feb. 25 and ran his record to 7-0 with seven knockouts, needing less than two minutes to stop Mike Walker at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla.

The bout Don King wanted to stage in HSBC Arena has finally found a home after weeks of delays. WBO champ Lamon Brewster will fight Andrew Golota on May 21 in Chicago's United Center. The Buffalo Sabres, who operate HSBC Arena, turned down the HBO fight because it is too much of a financial risk. It would have been Buffalo's first world title fight in 20 years.
e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com

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