Fight game discovers knockout in Rosenblatt

September 22, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

This is a classic fish tale that keeps growing bigger.

Leon Weinstein operates the Globe Fish Co. in Boston, one of the largest seafood wholesalers in the area. But Weinstein could not live on fish alone.

Growing up in Swampscott, Mass., he became an avid boxing fan, following the ring fortunes of state-bred champions Rocky Marciano, Tony DeMarco and Paul Pender. Weinstein, 45, dreamed of one day owning a piece of a fighter good enough to wear a title belt.

A fellow named Joe Lake worked for him in the fish market during the day and moonlighted as a boxing trainer. "I told Joe, 'If you ever have a kid who shows promise and you need some financial help, let me know,' " Weinstein said.

And that's how Weinstein hooked the big one -- a 160-pounder named Dana Rosenblatt, a former kick boxer who packs a knockout wallop in both hands.

And to make the catch even sweeter, Rosenblatt's Jewish roots make him easier to market in a sport that thrives on ethnic rivalries.

In 2 1/2 years, Rosenblatt has beaten 21 straight rivals, leaving 16 of them stretched out like a slice of lox.

And tomorrow night at the Show Place in Upper Marlboro, Rosenblatt will battle Frank Savannah (17-0), of Brick, N.J., for the vacant World Boxing Council Intercontinental title as the featured bout on the weekly ESPN telecast.

A native of Malden, Mass., Rosenblatt has made Maryland his second home. Promoter Stuart Satosky played host to his ring debut at the Pikesville Armory in April 1992, a two-round knockout of Tyrone Griffin. In three subsequent appearances in Baltimore, Rosenblatt needed a total of four rounds to dispose of Ivory Teague, Horace Waterson and Dan Mitchell.

"In that first year, I had a bigger following in Baltimore than back home," said Rosenblatt, ranked No. 13 by the WBC. "But I've fought on TV three times, and now the fans around Boston are starting to support me. But I haven't forgotten how Baltimore got me started."

Marketing Rosenblatt has been easy for Weinstein. Everyone seems eager to grab the coattails of a dynamic Jewish fighter.

After observing Rosenblatt knock out Sean Fitzgerald in less than a round in Ledyard, Conn., last December, fight manager Robert Mittelman, who handles unbeaten heavyweight contender Larry Donald, said, "He's the best Jewish puncher since David flattened Goliath."

Rosenblatt laughs at such talk.

"I don't go around saying I'm a Jewish fighter," he said. "I say I'm a Jewish guy who can fight."

But he is deeply proud of his roots, and spends considerable time between training and fights speaking at synagogues and Hebrew schools. "I draw strength from my people," he said. "Staying in touch with my roots gives me a reason to keep fighting. My Judaism is very symbolic for me."

Most of Rosenblatt's victories have come against obscure opponents. His most notable win was a ninth-round TKO over former contender Brett Lally last March.

There is talk in New England of matching Rosenblatt against Rhode Island native Vinny Pazienza, the former lightweight and junior-middleweight champ now fighting at 160. But Weinstein is in no hurry to push Rosenblatt into a world championship match.

"With James Toney, Roy Jones and Gerald McClellan all moving up in weight, the middleweight division is wide open now," he said. "But I don't want Dana just to fight for a title, I want to win one. He's only 22. There's no need to rush."

FIGHT FACTS

Who: Dana Rosenblatt (21-0, 16 KOs), Malden, Mass., vs. Frank Savannah (17-0, 4 KOs), Brick, N.J.

What: For World Boxing Council Intercontinental middleweight title, 12 rounds.

Co-feature: Andrew Council (18-2-2, 12 KOs), Landover, vs. Keith Holmes (23-1, 13 KOs), Washington, for U.S. Boxing Association junior-middleweight title.

When: Tomorrow, first bout 8 p.m.

Where: The Show Place, Upper Marlboro

TV: ESPN

Tickets: Ringside $40, reserved $30, general admission $20. Call (410) 481-SEAT.

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