Laurel welterweight Victor Davis underwent minor surgery Thursday to repair a "bruised" retina in his right eye, forcing him ZTC to cancel his scheduled March 4 bout against Eddie Van Kirk at the Baltimore Arena.
Promoter Don Elbaum immediately revised his card, matching Van Kirk with Baltimore rival Vincent Pettway in a 12-round bout for the Maryland state welterweight title.
"This is the fight I really wanted to make, and I think it's the one the fans here want to see," said Elbaum, who witnessed the eruption of a long-festering feud between Van Kirk and Pettway at a news conference last week. Their respective managers, Tony Pulaski and Mack Lewis, joined in the shouting match.
Originally, Pettway, 25, trying to rebound from successive knockout losses to Davis and Stephan Johnson that dropped him from the world rankings, was pitted against Kato Wilson of New York, but was promised a shot at the winner of the Davis-Van Kirk match.
"I guess there is a reason for everything," Pettway said of Davis' operation. "I wanted to get even with Victor, but now I have a chance to finally stop Van Kirk from running his mouth. He's been asking to fight me for years. Now he has his chance."
Pettway (31-4) also said it was a chance to prove to his large contingent of supporters that the Johnson fight at Painters Mills Theater two months ago was not a true indication of his boxing ability.
"I didn't make any excuses at the time," he said, "but I had the flu the week before fighting Johnson. I lost a lot of weight and felt weak, but I didn't want to pull out of the fight."
Van Kirk (26-6-1) also has been mounting a comeback since he was stopped by former lightweight champion Vinny Pazienza in November 1989. He has changed managers and trainers several times while winning three club fights.
Adrian Davis, the father and manager-trainer of Victor Davis, said he believes his son will be fighting again by the end of the year.
"Victor will come back and knock out the winner of Pettway-Van Kirk," Adrian said.