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Mobtown Beat

The Comeback

Chris Myers
THE GLOVES ARE OFF: (from left) Boxer Mike Dietrich, trainer Jake Smith, and Dr. Kimberley Steele celebrate Dietrich's victorious May 11 comeback.

By Chris Landers | Posted 5/16/2007

It was crowded at the Clarence "Du" Burns Arena on Friday, May 11, as boxer Mike "The American Dream" Dietrich waited to take his place in the ring for his comeback fight ("The Boxer," Mobtown Beat, May 9).

Dietrich was relaxed, watching the fights leading up to his from a table on the floor of the arena with his family. It was his first fight since he was stabbed five times in December 2005. Few thought he would box again.

Dietrich's trainer, manager, and the promoter of the fight, Jake "The Snake" Smith, moved quickly and purposefully around the venue. Smith wore a black button-down shirt with a hula girl on the back, her fringe skirt swaying as he stood in the ring, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

It was a rough night for Smith's fighters. Earl "Mighty Mouse" Cole was chased around the ring by Josh "OC Bomber" Snyder. Henry "Hurricane" Mayes hit the canvas--hard. Elias "The Golden Greek" Bouloubassis suffered a cut high on his mohawked head, and the fight was stopped. Smith shot into the ring, angry, as the cheering crowd dissolved into boos.

Shortly before his fight, Smith wrapped Dietrich's hands, chastising the fighter as he fidgeted around with the tape. Once the gloves were on, Dietrich worked the mitts, then shadowboxed in front of a mirror. He kissed the memorial tattoo for his mother on his right bicep. She died when he was 16. "This fight's for my mom," he said.

Outside, the ring-card girls--on loan from Scores strip club--passed out free admission tickets to the club, but when Dietrich emerged at the back of the arena, all eyes were on him. The announcer introduced his opponent, Jonathan Felton--a boxer with a record of three wins, three losses--who had made the trip from Virginia without an entourage and using a Baltimore-based trainer. When Dietrich was announced, the crowd erupted, cheering and chanting his name.

He didn't get the knockout he'd predicted. The fight went for all four rounds.

Early on, Felton looked a little glassy, but rallied after Dietrich followed a missed punch all the way to the ground. At one point, in a clutch, Felton lifted all 200-some pounds of Dietrich off the ground. Smith shouted instructions from the corner. By the end of the fourth round, Dietrich had landed enough punches to draw blood, and Felton's face glistened with red.

Dietrich was declared winner by unanimous decision of the judges, and Smith stood next to him, along with Kimberley Steele, the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center doctor who had fixed him up after the stabbing, as Dietrich held up his gloves. Smith's eyes began to tear. He turned away, then said, "I'll really cry when he wins the world title," before stepping out of the ring.

WATCH AN AUDIO SLIDESHOW of Dietrich's Friday night fight. Photos by Christopher Myers and interview by Chris Landers.

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