By MICHAEL KELLY
PERTH -- In a sport where the last result added to a resume seems to trump all that came before it, Amsterdam's Luis "Nando" King is looking Friday to win his way back to the stature he held a few months back after an electric debut as a professional boxer.
Joe Sagarese, who trains King out of Perth Ultimate Fitness, said Wednesday that his charge knows how big of a night Friday at the Saratoga Springs City Center is for his budding career -- and King will not be backing down from the moment.
"This," said Sagarese, "is absolutely critical."
After bursting onto the professional boxing scene with a knockout victory in February, King stumbled in a frustrating manner in late June, dropping a unanimous decision in a four-round fight in which he never hit the canvas and had knocked his opponent down in the second round.
King said he had come out of the fight thinking he had done enough to win -- and that way of thinking is what Sagarese said cost his fighter the victory. The coach was disappointed following the fight, saying King had shown inexperience in not sticking to the established game plan once he thought he had done enough to win.
"I don't expect anybody to win all the time, but I do expect their best," said Sagarese. "When you do your best, there will come a time when there's a better man than you in the ring and if you lose, that's acceptable -- but when you don't perform to your optimum best, that's when I get upset."
During the lead-up to Friday's fight against New Jersey rookie Donovan Scott, King and Sagarese have worked to make sure they have the needed level of trust to ensure King's third fight ends in a victory.
"My focus is really on point," said King. "Last fight, I lost it, I felt like I had the win -- and that's normally something I don't do. I backed off.
"This time," added King, "I know what I'm in for."
By that, though, King only means that he is buying in completely to letting Sagarese guide him through Friday night. The duo knows little of Scott since he has not had a professional fight, but the local duo is not worried about the unknown opponent.
"I kind of like it that way," King said.
So does Sagarese, who often says that King's best quality is his ability to fight with different styles. King has worked on his footwork and punching combinations to add to his arsenal for this fight, which Sagarese said should give the fighter the upper hand once a few minutes go by in the fight. Sagarese said it is up to King to make it through the first round, and then it is up to the coach to work some magic for the final three rounds.
"When he comes back after the first round, that's when we'll lay out our strategy to get the job done," Sagarese said.
King said a major help to his preparation for his third fight have been sparring sessions with Amsterdam's Harley Beekman. The larger sparring partner has helped King to work on his defense and quickness.
"He's really strong, so I had to either match him or try to overpower him," said King, a light-heavyweight. "And, trust me, it's not easy to overpower Harley."
Sagarese said he has not looked to the future yet to find King a fourth fight, saying all of the team's focus is on Friday night. That's fine with King, who knows how much his career could benefit from a 2-1 start as opposed to a 1-2 beginning.
"I have to take this more seriously," said King. "This is it. ... I'm going to give it my 100 percent, my 200 percent. I want to take this as far as I can."
Friday's World Boxing Federation event is set for a 7:30 p.m. start, with a 10-round bout between Shawn Miller and Frankie Filippone serving as the main event. Tickets, ranging from $40 for a general admission to $800 for a table, may be purchased by calling 236-4153 or 577-6946.
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