Rosi retains IBF title with draw

March 05, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- In a bizarre twist, Gianfranco Rosi of Assisi, Italy, retained his International Boxing Federation junior-middleweight title on a technical draw with Vincent Pettway of Baltimore last night at the MGM Grand after a head butt opened a deep gash over the champion's left eye 19 seconds into the sixth round.

When Nevada Athletic Commission doctor Flip Homansy ruled that Rosi was unfit to continue, it became a draw. Under IBF rules, a championship fight must go six full rounds before a butt can determine the outcome.

Al Goodman of Miami, who supervised the bout for the IBF, said it was likely the sanctioning body's executive committee would vote for a rematch.

"We'll have to hold a meeting soon, but, in my opinion, that is what will happen," Goodman said. "Of course, we will have to allow Rosi time for his eye to heal, and then see if [promoter] Don King would opt to put it on again."

Pettway, who suffered a slight gash on his hairline as a result of the clash of heads, felt that a right hand had actually done the damage to Rosi's eye.

"I caught him with the right," said Pettway. "He leaned forward, and that's when we banged heads."

At the time the fight was stopped, Rosi was leading on all three judges' cards. Keith MacDonald of Reno and Enzo Scala of Rome had the stocky Italian leading by 49-45 margins. Sheila Martin of Washington favored Rosi, 48-46, giving Pettway the second and fourth rounds.

But the judges were influenced by a first-round knockdown that was actually a push by Rosi, giving him an unwarranted 10-8 advantage.

Although trailing on the score cards, Pettway, 28, insisted he was beginning to take command in the sixth round.

"I was coming on, forcing the fight," said the No. 1 contender. "The second half of the fight would have been mine. Next time, I'll knock him out."

Rosi, 37, who was making the 11th defense of the title he won from Darrin Van Horn in 1990, said, "He [Pettway] is a tremendous fighter, but I'm sorry he came to fight a dirty fight.

"I want to do it again, but I'm disappointed because I was winning the fight and wanted to make a spectacular performance in America."

Rosi (57-3-1, 17 KOs), used his awkward, swarming style to keep Pettway (36-4-1, 29 KOs) off balance in the early rounds, but it was the lighter Baltimorean who landed the more telling punches.

Rosi, who has held the title longer than any current champion save for super featherweight Azumah Nelson and bantamweight Orlando Canizales, got the lion's share of the purse. He was guaranteed $245,000; Pettway got $50,000 in his first title bid.

There was early controversy when referee Mills Lane ruled a push by Rosi a knockdown. Pettway bounced right up and protested.

The awkward Rosi used his hit-and-clutch style to start the second round and tried to bully Pettway in the corner. Lane warned both fighters for dirty tactics.

The champion landed several light combinations, but Pettway dodged a number of wide punches. Rosi won the second round with his aggressiveness.

Pettway landed a hard right to begin the third round and several telling shots to Rosi's rib cage. The pace picked up appreciably with the fighters exchanging punches in mid-ring. A left-right combination by Pettway momentarily staggered the Italian, exciting the crowd.

In an earlier match, World Boxing Council middleweight champion Gerald McClellan, of Freeport, Ill., needed 97 seconds to dispose of Gilbert Baptist of San Diego, a late replacement for top-contender Lamar Parks.

McClellan (30-2, 28 KOs) rocked Baptist (28-17-12 KOs) with his first solid left hook. Baptist began sagging in the corner and McClellan dropped the former Marine three times before the fight was stopped.

L Baptist announced his retirement immediately after the bout.

In the first match of the night, Argentina's Julio Cesar Vasquez, in his second American appearance, needed less than two rounds to defend his World Boxing Association junior-middleweight crown against Armand Picar, of the Philippines.

Vasquez (48-1, 34 KOs) floored Picar, a late substitute for Rafael Pineda of Columbia, three times in the second round.

In another mismatch, Mike McCallum improved his record to 46-2-1 (35 KOs) with a decision over Randall Yonker.

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