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RALSTON SIGNS WITH NEW ENGLAND PROMOTER

Local prizefighter Les Ralston's career has been borderline catatonic. He has fought only twice and won just once in 20 months.

Those days, he prays, are behind him.

The middleweight from Sweet Home High has signed an agreement with promoter Jimmy Burchfield of Providence, R.I.

Ralston described a three-year deal that calls for a minimum of five bouts per year, beginning with a fight scheduled for May 13 in Boston against an opponent to be determined.

"I think this is going to jump-start my career," Ralston said. "I've kind of been stagnant for a little bit. Now that I have promoter I can get the fights that I need."

Ralston has never been under contract with a promoter. He is managed and trained by his father, former light heavyweight contender Jimmy Ralston.

"It's really important," Les Ralston said of the signing with a promoter. "I'm at the breaking point in my career where I'm going to start stepping it up as far as my opponents.

"(A promoter) was the only thing we were missing. It's a relief not having to worry about getting my own fights and dealing with other promoters. When you don't have a promoter you're not treated the same as when you do."

While Burchfield isn't a household name a la Don King or Bob Arum, he has created a niche in the Northeast. The Hartford Courant earlier this year called Burchfield "the leading promoter in New England." His top clients are No. 1 WBC super middleweight contender Scott Pemberton and undefeated middleweight Chad Dawson.

"Jimmy Burchfield is a guy who can take me where I need to go," Ralston said. "He's probably one of the top smaller promoters coming up in the promotional world. He seems like the right guy.

"We're at a point where we had to find somebody. We've gone long enough without a promoter. I think this is going to be good."

Ralston is 14-1 with seven knockouts. His last victory came in July 2004 against Daniel Neal in Rochester.

Two months earlier Ralston experienced his first pro defeat -- on points to Sergio Mora -- in Ralston's national television debut.

e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com