Trinidad decides not to move up, giving Pettway title shot March 7 IBF welterweight champ opts for a 12th defense

December 20, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

A change of heart by International Boxing Federation welterweight champion Felix Trinidad has given Baltimore's Vincent Pettway an opportunity to win a second world title in Mexico City on March 7.

In the past year, the unbeaten Trinidad (32-0, 28 KOs) said he was having problems making the 147-pound limit and was considering challenging for the junior middleweight crown.

The Puerto Rican native was ranked No. 1 by the World Boxing Council in the 154-pound class after stopping Troy Waters in the first round of a title qualifier at Madison Square Garden four months ago.

This put Trinidad in position to challenge Keith Mullings, who scored a stunning knockout over WBC champion Terry Norris on Dec. 6. But last week in Florida, Trinidad advised his promoter, Don King, and IBF president Bob Lee that he would prefer to defend his welterweight crown for the 12th time since dethroning Maurice Blocker four years ago.

"It kind of surprised me," said Pettway, the former IBF junior middleweight king, who, unlike Trinidad, finds it more comfortable and advantageous to fight as a welterweight. "I thought sure Trinidad was going to vacate his title and that I would be fighting [Congo's] Mahenge Zulu for the championship."

Pettway (41-6-1) knows he will be a prohibitive underdog against Trinidad, considered among the best fighters in the world.

"I know I can punch with power and also throw quick combinations. I was a big underdog against Simon Brown, too, and you know how that turned out," Pettway said.

In April 1995, Pettway twice got off the canvas at USAir Arena in Landover to finish Brown in the sixth round in what was considered the knockout of the year.

Like Pettway, Trinidad has been floored on more than one occasion. He was dropped by Luis Campas, Oba Carr and Kevin Leushing, but always bounced up quickly and with more fire and determination.

"He fights better when he's been down," Pettway said. "You have to make sure if you hurt him, to finish him off."

Pub Date: 12/20/97

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