Pettway down to fine edge with Brown fight looming

April 26, 1995|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,Sun Staff Writer

The tough stuff is just about done, the sparring, the running, smacking the heavy and light bags, and soon it will be time for what Vincent Pettway calls his "quiet time."

There's no guarantee the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champion will find the necessary time and space for his mental preparation for the challenge of Mount Airy's Simon Brown Saturday night at USAir Arena, because he's the father of three young children, two girls and a boy.

"But I'm getting good at it [finding seclusion]," says the owner of a 37-4 record who gave his life over to the service of God a long time ago. "It makes me very confident, knowing I'm putting myself in His care and that any ability I have is a gift from Him. I know He'll never abandon me in the ring."

With its fighter physically at the peak of his powers and mentally ready, the Pettway camp doesn't lack for confidence, despite Brown's edge in big-time fights and punching power.

"I think Simon's lost some of his speed and his reaction time might have gone back a bit," says manager-trainer Mack Lewis. "In his last couple fights he didn't seem as 'into it' as he used to be.

"He was frustrated in the second Norris fight [which saw Brown lose the World Boxing Council super welterweight back after he had flattened Terry in the fourth round five months before]. Norris didn't fight him. We're going to fight him, but we're not going to stand there and trade punches."

The reason, of course, as Pettway points out, "is the last thing to go in a fighter is his punch. Brown's been working to get his boxing skills back and I know he'll be inspired because you can tell he misses the limelight, the excitement of being a champ."

A check of Brown's record shows he starched 15 of 21 opponents before losing for the first time late in the fourth year of his pro career. He then posted knockouts in 11 of his next 13 bouts before losing again.

Ths losses were all to classy champions and boxer-punchers, Marlon Starling, Buddy McGirt and Norris. He has been forced to go an average of nine rounds in his last four fights and one of them was a second-round TKO.

On the other hand, Pettway, after winning his first 17 bouts easily, was knocked out four times over his next 18 fights, at least suggesting he isn't possessed of a granite chin.

"In every instance," recalls Lewis, "he just got hit with a shot. He was never knocked cold. In fact, he was up and the fight was stopped, which in every case I agreed with because you can always fight another day. I never once mentioned any of the knockouts to him and none of them bothered him for even a minute."

Either Pettway has been lucky and avoided getting in front of the proverbial shot the last four years and eight bouts, or he has become a very elusive target to hit solidly. It's no doubt the latter.

Gianfranco Rosi scored a knockdown in their technical draw in March of last year, but it was a slip. When Pettway took the world title from Rosi, the Italian barely landed a dozen punches before he was flattened in the fourth round.

Besides a strong undercard, pitting top two contenders Bernard Hopkins and Segundo Mercado for the IBF middleweight belt vacated by Roy Jones and Darryl Tyson taking on Freddy Pendleton for the U.S. Boxing Association 140-pound crown, promoter Don King is pushing the appearance of Mike Tyson as a commentator on the Showtime telecast getting under way at 11 p.m.

The first bout goes off at 5:30 p.m. Local calbe systems are

blacked out.

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