Don hoping to crown new kings Pettway joining middleweight series

August 13, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Baltimore's Vincent Pettway yesterday found himself sitting among eight world champions, ranging from 154 to 168 pounds, as an active participant in promoter Don King's latest boxing extravaganza, aimed at producing the No. 1 middleweight in the world.

Pettway's entree into the series -- it's not a tournament, King said, because it doesn't rule out rematches -- will be a mandatory IBF junior middleweight title fight with champion Gianfranco Rosi. The match is expected to take place in Italy or France by Oct. 16, according to Rosi representative Piero Santini.

JTC Egged on by King's hyperbole, Rosi apparently already was looking ahead to a match with World Boxing Council champion Terry Norris.

"Yesterday, it was Italy. Tomorrow the world," said King on behalf of his Italian-speaking entry.

For the record, the eight champions in the field include Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Michael Nunn (WBA) at 168 pounds, Gerald McClellan (WBC), Reggie Johnson (WBA) and Chris Pyatt (WBO) at 160 and Norris and Rosi at 154.

With King presently removed from the heavyweight title picture while former champion Mike Tyson continues to serve his six-year sentence for rape in Indiana, the promoter struck upon the idea of monopolizing the middleweight division, historically known for boasting the best combination of boxers and punchers.

The goal, King said, is to identify the "supreme king of the middleweights. We want to give the best fighters and those who aspire to be the best the chance to make money. This will verify several titles."

Missing from the series are IBF super middleweight champ James Toney and Roy Jones Jr., the IBF middleweight king.

"Who will they fight?" King said. "Nondescript guys. All the descript guys are in this series, and they won't have time for Toney and Jones. They have full menus."

As Norris' manager, Joe Sayatovich, said, "This will put the hype back in boxing.

"For too long, champions have been trying to keep their titles by fighting rusty tomato cans."

King said his loosely constructed series will begin Sept. 10, with Norris fighting Joe Gatti of Canada on the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker welterweight championship match at the AlamoDome in San Antonio.

Following Benn vs. Eubank, Rosi vs. Pettway, and Nunn vs. Merqui Sosa, the pairings tend to get a trifle fuzzy.

"I think it's impractical to expect one guy will emerge as the No. 1 middleweight," said Jay Larkin, Showtime's producer. Some of the bouts will be on Showtime, others on King's pay-per-view network.

"It's more realistic to have an ultimate champion in each weight class -- 154, 160 and 168. We're simply going to approach this thing fight to fight, anticipating some guys may drop out or seek different opponents."

In addition to Pettway, Gatti and Sosa, other non-champions participating are Julian Jackson, Simon Brown, Thomas Tate and John David Jackson.

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