Pettway to get warm-up swings in Teamsters exhibition tonight

March 29, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

A boxing gym is generally not the best place to see democracy in action. A caste system usually exists, with preliminary fighters, main event boxers and ring champions assuming a pecking order in the way they are treated in and out of the ring.

But that's not the case at Mack Lewis' Eager Street gym, which houses a world champion in International Boxing Federation junior middleweight king Vincent Pettway, and a half-dozen aspiring professional fighters, including welterweight Wade Duncan (10-2-2), who battles Curtis Peoples (12-4), of Washington, in the main event at Teamsters Hall tomorrow night.

For the past few months, Duncan has been going toe-to-toe with Pettway, who will appear in a four-round exhibition on Tank Hill's fight card in preparation for his first title defense against Simon Brown at the USAir Arena on April 29.

"Don't get any respect," Pettway said with a laugh. "In most gyms, you can see the sparring partner syndrome. Guys working with a champion aren't trying to hurt him, just give him some work and collect a paycheck.

"But in Mr. Mack's gym, sparring partners don't get paid, and the young guys are aspiring to get where you are. There are no easy sparring sessions . . . more like nightly wars."

For Pettway, who has not fought since winning the title from Gianfranco Rosi on a fourth-round knockout in Las Vegas last September, fighting an exhibition offers an inviting change of scenery.

"I get my basic work done in the gym, but it's different fighting before a crowd and hearing some noise," said Pettway. "This will get me more of a feel of what it will be like when I fight Simon Brown."

Duncan, a stocky 145-pounder, has been doing his best impersonation of Simon Brown's aggressive style in sparring with Pettway, a stylish boxer-puncher.

"Simon is a pressure fighter, and that's how I like to fight," said Duncan. "I keep coming after Pettway, but he is so quick with his hands and combinations, it improves my defense."

Said Pettway, "I'm getting acclimated to someone attacking me. And Wade is throwing punches in bunches. In his last fight [an eight-round loss to Richard McGill], he was loading up. He thought anyone he hit, he'd put to sleep. Now he's learning how to adapt to the other guy's style."

Lewis says he believes Duncan benefited by the boxing lesson he received from McGill last May.

"Wade can be hard-headed at times," said the trainer-manager, who is in his 51st year in boxing. "He's got the tools. He can box and punch. Trouble is he doesn't always listen to advice. But working almost every night with Pettway can only help make him a more complete fighter."

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