Pettway to get shot at Norris and his titles Jr. middleweight bout scheduled for Feb. 24

January 13, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Baltimore junior middleweight Vincent Pettway, who lost his International Boxing Federation crown to Paul Vaden last August, will try to win two 154-pound titles on Feb. 24 when he challenges Terry Norris, the IBF and World Boxing Council champion.

Promoter Don King, who finalized the match yesterday, has yet to announce a site.

"I'm kind of surprised by the news," said Pettway, who has been away from the gym for three months. "I was thinking more of having a tuneup fight. This time frame won't allow it.

"But I appreciate getting the chance to fight Norris. I know I'm ranked No. 3 by the IBF [behind Keith Holmes and Raul Marquez], but I've fought better competition and have more name recognition."

This could be the last title shot for Pettway, 30, who won the title by stopping Italy's Gianfranco Rosi in September 1994.

He successfully defended it last April by getting off the floor to score a sensational sixth-round knockout of Simon Brown at USAir Arena in Landover.

But four months later, Pettway, looking fatigued after five rounds, let his title slip away to the defensive-minded Vaden.

Ahead by one point on all three scorecards entering the 12th and final round, Pettway got trapped in a corner. He was caught by at least a dozen unanswered punches when referee Richard Steele intervened with 27 seconds left.

"If I knew I was ahead going into the last round, I might have fought differently," said Pettway, who won the early rounds with a strong body attack. "But then it would have made for a very dull fight."

Asked about his sluggish finish, he said: "I never offer excuses for losing, but I had a lot of things go wrong physically. I was coming off a real, tough fight with Brown and really pushing myself.

"I had breathing problems training in the Las Vegas heat, but I never told my manager [Mack Lewis]. I fought as hard as I could. I didn't want to quit on my stool."

Losing his title to Vaden became even more upsetting last month in Philadelphia when Pett- way watched Vaden offer only token resistance to Norris, who swept all 12 rounds and added another championship belt.

"Norris knew he was way ahead and didn't try for a late knockout," said Pettway. "He fought smart."

Because of the recent blizzard, Pettway moved his roadwork and conditioning program inside yesterday, running and bag-punching at the Downtown Athletic Club.

"Everyone who watched Vincent fight Vaden on TV told me he looked sick," said Lewis, who doubles as his principal trainer.

"Now he's got another chance to show his best. . . . Beating Norris will give him two titles and the opportunity to demand big purses. He just has to decide he really wants to fight."

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