Baltimore junior middleweight Vincent Pettway's quest for a title bout with International Boxing Federation champion Gianfranco Rosi faces another obstacle. It was learned Monday that Rosi, an Italian, intends to fight a different challenger in January.
Piero Santini, Rosi's American representative, said the champion was contemplating a Jan. 20 match in France against fifth-ranked Ron Wright of St. Petersburg, Fla.
This report brought immediate action from IBF president Bob Lee.
"Pettway [the No. 1 contender] is still Rosi's mandatory challenger," Lee said. "I sent him a fax today indicating that he will face a substantial fine or the possible stripping of his title if he fights anyone other than Pettway.
"They were supposed to fight in October, but a European deal fell through," Lee said. "Since then, [promoter] Don King has been trying to put the fight together. As I understand it, he has both Rosi and Pettway signed, and agreeing to fight each other in the first quarter of 1994."
King had proposed staging the championship bout Jan. 15 in Baltimore for Showtime, a cable network. King assigned local promoter Stuart Satosky to find a suitable site. But these plans were quashed when King discovered HBO was planning a fight show the same night.
Pettway and his manager-trainer, Mack Lewis, have been frustrated by the repeated delays.
"I don't want them to strip Rosi," Lewis said. "We've been planning on fighting him for almost a year. He's the guy we want to fight. We feel Pettway can whip him."
Lee has hesitated putting the fight up to purse bids as long as he thought King was making progress.
King's matchmaker, Al Braverman, said the promoter will be in New York later this week to map out his 1994 cable-TV schedule with Showtime executives.
"When that happens, we should have an idea exactly when Rosi and Pettway will fight," Braverman said.
Pettway, who at 28 is 8 years younger than Rosi, has not fought since stopping Dan Sherry at the Baltimore Arena on May 12.