Pettway gets a 2nd look at Rosi

September 16, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Before Vincent Pettway arrived here to complete his training for tomorrow's title rematch with Gianfranco Rosi, he had time to study the champion's features and ponder his alleged threats.

A color photograph of Rosi wearing his International Boxing Federation junior middleweight title belt was on the bulletin board in Mack Lewis' Broadway gym. It carried this message: "Vincent Pettway, I'm going to kick your but [sic]." It was signed, "And that's Mr. Rosi, to you."

"I don't know how that picture got here," said Pettway, stifling a laugh. "Probably one of my sparring partners just trying to make me angry. But I don't have to get mad to beat Rosi. I just have to be ready, and fight my fight this time."

When Rosi and Pettway met at the MGM Grand Garden last March, a head collision ended their scheduled 12-round bout 19 seconds into the sixth round. Rosi was leading on all three scorecards, but under IBF rules, the fight was called a technical draw because six rounds had not been completed. IBF president Bob Lee ordered a rematch.

Pettway, a 28-year-old Baltimore native who is nine years younger than Rosi, says he was fortunate to get a second chance. He has used the six months to examine his mistakes and to look for Rosi's.

"I've watched the tape of the first fight a number of times," Pettway said. "But I was surprised last week when I went to my dad's house, and saw him watching it with Mr. Mack.

"He never bothers to watch tapes. Mr. Mack believes he can watch a guy for a few rounds and find his flaws, and that we can win if we fight the way we prepared."

Lewis, 75, has trained hundreds of professionals over the past half-century but never produced a world champion. He and Pettway came to the same conclusions.

"We can't let Rosi dictate like he did last time," said Lewis. "Vincent has to jump right on him; he can't let the champion pile up a lead."

Said Pettway, "Rosi needs room to punch and he throws a lot of wide punches. I can't fight him from long range. That's how he caught me in the first round the last time, on the end of a long punch.

"It knocked me off balance, then he gave me a little shove to push me down, and the referee [Mills Lane] called it a knockdown. That put me behind by two points right from the start.

"I can't wait to counterpunch. I have to put pressure on him from the opening bell. He's strong physically, but he was breathing like a freight train after five rounds."

Rosi's lunging style and unorthodox behavior drew Pettway into a game of retaliation. For every ring trick attempted by Rosi, Pettway replied in kind.

"You can't get caught up in all that stuff," said Lewis. "If you're fighting right, you can overcome foul tactics."

Pettway says it wasn't his intention to turn the fight into a version of "Dirty Dancing." And he was annoyed when boxing analyst Ferdie Pacheco suggested that his style had caused the collision of heads that produced a gash over Rosi's left eye.

"Pacheco made it sound like I intentionally butted him. But I was fighting no different than the way Joe Frazier fought Muhammad Ali," Pettway said. "I'm supposed to put my head on his chest and fire off combinations. And that's what I was trying to do."

Afterward, Pettway said he had cut his left cheekbone in an auto accident three weeks before the fight, which curtailed his training. He also said he had trouble maintaining his weight. He was 150 at the weigh-in, 4 pounds lighter than Rosi.

Pettway also said he spent considerable time arranging for tickets and transportation to Las Vegas for family and friends.

"No professional fighter ever comes into a match 100 percent physically and mentally," he said. "But I'm a lot more confident this time. I've sparred over 500 rounds. I even had to take some time off because I was peaking too soon. Now I've got everything together -- mind and body."

Cornerman Tank Hill nodded approvingly after Pettway completed his training against sparring partner Kenny Blackston on Wednesday.

"He's really focused this time," said Hill, a former welterweight. "Last time, his mind seemed somewhere else. Now he's relaxed, listening to everything you tell him, and following through. He knows this is his golden opportunity."

Rosi, a 3-1 favorite who has defended his title 11 times since out-pointing Darrin Van Horn in July 1989, presented Pettway with a jar of Italian chocolates at a news conference on Wednesday.

"It's too late for that now," Pettway said. "When it's over, and I'm wearing the championship belt, we can be friends, joke and take pictures together. Now, it's time for business."

FIGHT FACTS

Who: Gianfranco Rosi (57-3-1, 17 KOs), Assisi, Italy, vs. Vincent Pettway (36-4-1, 29 KOs), Baltimore

What: For Rosi's IBF junior middleweight title, 12 rounds

When: Tomorrow, 5:45 p.m.

Where: MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas

TV: Showtime, taped delay beginning 7 p.m.

Other title bouts on card, pay per view, 9 p.m.: WBC super-welterweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Mexico, vs. Meldrick Taylor, Philadelphia; WBA junior-welterweight champion Juan Coggi, Argentina, vs. Frankie Randall, Morristown, Tenn.; IBF welterweight champion Felix Trinidad, Puerto Rico, vs. Ramon Campos, Mexico; WBC super-featherweight champion James Leija, San Antonio, Texas, vs. Gabriel Ruelas, Sylmar, Calif.; WBC strawweight champion Ricardo Lopez, Mexico, vs. Yodsing Saengmorokot, Thailand.

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