Pettway title bout still needs promoter Purse bids likely for fight with Rosi BOXING

September 28, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Baltimore junior middleweight Vincent Pettway knows he is the mandatory challenger for Gianfranco Rosi's International Boxing Federation title this fall. Unfortunately, that is all he knows.

The date, site and size of the purses are still undecided due to the lack of a promoter willing to stage the championship fight.

It now appears all but certain that the IBF will put the match up for purse bids Friday, about nine months since Italy's Rosi made his last mandatory defense in a rematch against Gilbert Dele of France.

"Rosi has to defend his title against the No. 1 challenger, and that's Pettway," said IBF president Bob Lee, who will notify all IBF-sanctioned promoters that bids will be accepted. "The fight goes to the highest bidder, with Rosi guaranteed 75 percent of the total purses," Lee said. "The promoter must put up 25 percent of the purses within a month and the fight must take place within 30 days."

Don King, who holds options on both Rosi and Pettway and has included both fighters in his recently inaugurated middleweight tournament, has unsuccessfully sought a promotional partner for the bout.

His matchmaker, Al Braverman, said King offered the champion $300,000 and Pettway, $100,000.

Although Rosi is the IBF's longest-reigning champion, the durable brawler is not a big box-office attraction in his native Italy and made his last three title defenses in France or Monte Carlo.

A search for a European promoter for the Pettway-Rosi bout proved fruitless, and Rosi recently severed ties with U.S.-based Cedric Kushner, who had valuable television contacts in Italy and France.

"Right now there is no money or TV for Gianfranco in Italy," said his American representative, Piero Santini of Nutley, N.J.

"He is training in Italy and getting very disturbed. He calls me almost every day. He is angry with Don King. He wanted this fight yesterday, if you understand. He is in a hurry to dispose of Pettway and get a bigger fight with [World Boxing Council champion] Terry Norris."

With the European market evaporated, King pictured Baltimore as the next most attractive site, with Pettway fighting before his hometown fans. He met last week in his New York office with local promoter Stuart Satosky and Pettway's manager-trainer, Mack Lewis.

Satosky estimated it would cost close to $200,000 to stage the fight at the Baltimore Arena. With tickets scaled from $25 to $100, a crowd of more than 4,000 would be required to escape a loss.

King informed Satosky that any revenue up to $225,000 from the live gate was his to keep. But with no guarantees of splitting possible TV or radio revenue, Satosky decided yesterday the proposition was too risky.

""King might have to take it, but Rosi is virtually unknown in the pTC United States, and Pettway lacks national TV exposure," said Braverman. "It's a real gamble."

But Lewis found a silver lining. "We know Rosi has to fight us or lose his title," he said in behalf of Pettway. "We just have to be patient."

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