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Posted May 8, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Chuck McGill: Local boxers pursue dreams

By Chuck McGill -- cmcgill@nvdaily.com

FORT VALLEY -- Nearly eight miles up Fort Valley Road sits a boxing gym. From the outside it looks modest, appearing sort of like a garage without a garage door. It's surrounded by uncut grass, with mammoth green mountains serving as the backdrop.

Outside it's quiet, providing not a hint that inside some of the area's best fighters are training with aspirations of becoming world champions.

But once you walk through the door, boxing knocks you over like a left hook from Manny Pacquiao.

A standard-size boxing ring sits in the middle of the open space, which has concrete floors and plain white walls. There are wooden benches for the boxers to sit on while they lace up their shoes or take a breather after a sparring session or stint on the treadmill. Eight gray lockers are tucked in the corner. Four boxing bags hang from the wall, evenly spaced outside the ring. There's even a couch for portly reporters like me to take a load off.

The gym sits on the property of Scott Farmer, the owner of boxing promotional company Left Hook LLC. Farmer is also the primary trainer for his son, Andrew "The Doo Man" Farmer, who is part of the main event of Saturday night's Tomorrow Champions XII at Winchester Sportsplex.

Together they are raising the sport's visibility and interest in the Shenandoah Valley.

Most of the 12 Tomorrow's Champions fight nights have been held in Winchester, but this edition has some extra clout. Let's Get It On Promotions LLC, Pro-Motion Sports and TKO Boxing are all helping Left Hook this weekend. Let's Get It On is run by Terry and Tommy Lane, sons of legendary boxing referee Mills Lane.

The Lane brothers quietly attended the last Tomorrow's Champions fight night in March, unbeknownst to Scott Farmer, and expressed interest about getting involved after seeing the show.

"You hook up with the Lanes, with TKO promotions, and doors open that normally wouldn't open," Scott Farmer said.

The doors that open could eventually lead to Andrew Farmer reaching the top. "The Doo Man" is 11-1 with seven knockouts in his young career.

Last year, Oscar De Lay Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions offered him the chance to fight on the undercard of the Joe Calzaghe/Roy Jones Jr. light heavyweight title bout and the Bernard Hopkins/Kelly Pavlik bout. Farmer was also invited to go to training camp with Ricky Hatton prior to his fight with Paulie Malignaggi in November. He declined all three invitations.

Farmer, you see, is in a tricky situation. He works in construction as a day job, generating the income he needs to survive when he would prefer to be training and boxing full-time. However, he's not yet at the point in his career where he can drop his full-time job and shift full attention to boxing -- like the Pacquiaos and Hattons of the world.

"I want to box full-time, that's my dream," Farmer said. "To get to the point where I can train and box for a living, that's all I want. No going out and cutting your fingers off in construction and then coming into train."

Farmer essentially did that too.

He still has all his fingers, but there's a sizable scar on the base of his left thumb. He cut it with a razor knife hanging drywall three weeks before the March fight at the Sportsplex. He received stitches and wrapped the injury, then continued training by boxing with his right hand. He still wanted to fight.

But then one week before the bout, he unwrapped the hand to remove the stitches. When the last stitch left his hand, the wound opened back up.

Farmer hasn't fought since August.

"I'm looking forward to fighting again," he said. "I've been training steady since the middle of 2008. Even through my injuries I've been in here. I'm definitely looking forward to getting in the ring and actually having a fight."

With his dad in his corner, Farmer will climb through the ropes on Saturday for an eight-round bout. Maybe he'll win, maybe he'll do it convincingly, and maybe someone else who carries weight in the boxing world will once again be disguised in the large crowd expected at the Sportsplex.

Maybe that'll open the door for Farmer to go from that simple, workmanlike gym in Fort Valley to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. After all, Pacquiao -- considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world -- started his rags-to-riches story in the Philippines, where he lived in a one-room shack. On Saturday, his devastating left hook knocked out Hatton in the second round in an HBO Pay-Per-View event.

Farmer watched the fight with keen interest: Both Pacquiao and Hatton are in his weight class.

"All those guys on HBO Pay-Per-View, most of them come from small towns," Farmer said. "Nobody thought that would happen to them, but it does."

Maybe he's next.

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