The City and Poly of Baltimore fistiania, Vincent Pettway and Eddie Van Kirk, are going to get a chance to prove they're up to the old challenge of putting their money where their mouth is.
When the rivals climb into the Baltimore Arena ring March 4 to decide the state welterweight championship, there will be more than pride and bragging rights riding on the outcome.
While the long-awaited matchup isn't a winner-take-all proposition, the purse differential of $7,000 to the victor and $5,000 to the vanquished figures to be a factor goading each to extracurricular effort.
"When the Van Kirk-Victor Davis bout fell through [because of an eye injury to Davis], I went to Mack Lewis [Pettway's manager] and asked him about fighting Van Kirk," said promoter Don Elbaum. "He welcomed the suggestion and came up with the idea of the winner taking a bigger slice of the $12,000 purse."
Initially, Van Kirk wasn't enthusiastic about taking on Pettway unless the money was better than for the Davis fight. "As soon as he heard he could make $7,000 by winning, he said, 'Count me in,' " Elbaum said.
"I've done this before, let the fighters know beforehand what the stake would be and it has worked well," said the promoter. "In fact, it might have ended up hurting a fighter I was handling. He was a big football player out of Ohio State, Kip Kane, and he went in against Jeff Jordan in Columbus, Ohio. If he won, Kane was probably going to be Larry Holmes' 49th opponent [as the ex-heavyweight champion attempted to break Rocky Marciano's unbeaten streak]. Jordan beat him."
In another departure from the norm, Adrian Davis, father and manager-trainer of his son Victor, has volunteered and been accepted as Van Kirk's trainer for this grudge match.
"With Eddie giving everything he's got like he always does, and my expertise as a trainer, I think we've got enough to beat Pettway," Davis said.
Obviously, the oddsmakers don't agree, Las Vegas already putting out a line of 9-to-5 in Pettway's favor. Vincent has lost his last two bouts, but brings a 31-4 record and a one-time world ranking into the bout. Van Kirk is 26-6.
Other bouts made for the revamped card include four-rounders pitting cruiserweights Lou Benson and Ric Lainhart, light-heavyweights Irish Carson McCourry and Jeff Schmude and middleweights Cliff Wise and Eric Elliott. Light-heavyweights Dave Izegwire and John Keys meet in a six-rounder and an opponent is being sought for Richard "Hardface" Mason in the co-featured eight-rounder.