Pettway draws a break in run-in with Rosi

March 06, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Of all the possible endings Vincent Pettway imagined in his challenge for Gianfranco Rosi's International Boxing Federation junior-middleweight title Friday night, the technical draw was a result he never anticipated.

"I thought I would beat Rosi by a decision or knock him out," the Baltimore boxer said. "But this was something that I hadn't considered."

The draw at the MGM Grand proved a major break for Pettway, 28, making his first title bid after 41 professional bouts. He trailed on all three judges' cards when a clash of heads 19 seconds into the sixth round left the Italian champion with blood gushing from a wound over his left eye.

Rosi's cut man could not stem the bleeding, and Nevada athletic commission doctor Flip Homansy ruled Rosi was unfit to continue. Under IBF rules, six rounds must be completed for an accidental butt to decide the outcome. Had it occurred after the sixth, Rosi would have been a clear winner.

Now, however, everyone involved, including Rosi, agrees a title rematch is in order.

"I will definitely recommend a rematch to our championship chairman, Bill Brennan, and our executive board," said IBF supervisor Alvin Goodman of Miami, who, coincidentally, is a native of Baltimore. "If possible, we'd like it to place in 90 days."

"It goes without saying that there will be a rematch, and my word means more than money," said promoter Don King, who staged the Rosi-Pettway fight as part of an advertised record five-championship-bout card that started at 4 p.m. Friday and ended early yesterday morning.

Rosi's manager, Silvero Giesta, agreed, but said the injury could require Rosi to delay his training and necessitate an extension beyond 90 days.

Before he left for Valley Hospital to have his eye stitched, Rosi said: "Pettway is a terrific fighter, but I'm sorry he fought such a dirty fight.

"I want to do it again, but I'm disappointed. I felt I was winning the fight. I wanted it to go 12 rounds so I could make a spectacular impression for the American fans," said Rosi, making his first appearance in the States since winning the crown from Darrin Van Horn in Atlantic City, N.J., nearly five years ago.

L Pettway took exception to Rosi's charges of illegal tactics.

"He should look in the mirror," Pettway said. "First of all, I thought I cut his eye open with a solid right hand. Once he knew he was cut, he leaned in and banged heads."

The collision resulted in a slight wound on Pettway's hairline.

"If he is going to fight dirty, I'm a boy from the 'hood, and I'm going to give it back in spades."

Pettway acknowledged he was behind at the time of the stoppage, but said: "I was coming on, putting pressure on him, and he was starting to tire. He was breathing like a freight train."

Rosi's advantage on the cards of judges Keith MacDonald of Reno (49-45), Enzo Scale of Rome (49-45) and Shiela Martin of Washington (48-46) was based mainly on his 10-8 margin in the first round, when referee Mills Lane ruled an apparent push as a clean knockdown.

Later, Lane said he might have erred. "Rosi hit Pettway with a left hook, and he started to stagger," Lane said. "But Rosi definitely pushed him. And you could make a case that it was more a shove than a punch that put him down."

Capitalizing on his awkward, lunging style and his ability to lure -- his rival into clinches, Rosi also won the second round. But then the momentum changed. Pettway, who at 150 pounds was four pounds lighter, began to catch the champion with solid hooks and body shots.

Pettway's manager-trainer, Mack Lewis, said: "We'll knock him out in eight or nine rounds the next time. You could see how tired Rosi was getting."

Rosi (57-3-1, 17 KOs) had not fought since making his 10th successful title defense against Gilbert Dele of France on Jan. 20, 1993. Pettway (36-4-1, 29 KOs) had been idle since defending his U.S. Boxing Association title against Canada's Dan Sherry last May while waiting for Rosi to agree to terms.

The Rosi-Pettway fight was not the only one to end in controversy on the 100-round card that was carried by Showtime on two shows.

World Boxing Association cruiserweight champion Orlin Norris (49-3, 22 KOs) of Campo, Calif., won a split decision over challenger Art Williams (21-2-1) of Las Vegas.

Norris dominated early, but Williams, the crowd favorite, staged a strong rally. Judge Jerry Roth supported Norris, 114-112, and Billy Graham had the same score in favor of Williams. But Patricia Jarman seemed out of line with her 118-110 vote for Norris.

World Boxing Council middleweight champion Gerald McClellan of Freeport, Ill., and WBA junior middleweight champion Julio Cesar Vasquez of Argentina left no room for dispute in their quick knockouts over overmatched foes.

McClellan (30-2, 18 KOs) needed only 97 seconds to dispatch Gilbert Baptiste of San Diego. Vasquez (48-1, 34 KOs) disposed of Armand Pincar of the Philippines at 2:05 of the second round. Baptiste and Pincar were late substitutes.

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