Eye surgery cancels Pettway's fight date

It's 2nd time injury ends title bout with Trinidad

May 08, 1999|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Former junior middleweight champion Vincent Pettway of Baltimore has withdrawn from his scheduled International Boxing Federation welterweight title bout against champion Felix Trinidad in Puerto Rico on May 29 after undergoing surgery Wednesday to repair a detached retina in his left eye.

This is the second time an injury has cost Pettway, 33, a chance to challenge the unbeaten Trinidad, who has been looking ahead to a more lucrative showdown this fall against World Boxing Council welterweight king Oscar De La Hoya.

Pettway had been scheduled to fight Trinidad in March 1998, but the match was canceled when he underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand.

"I know God made this happen for a reason," Pettway said of his latest setback. "Actually, I was just going for a routine eye exam. If this injury hadn't been caught in time, it could have been far more serious."

Dr. John Thompson, who performed the surgery at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, said he anticipated Pettway will be able to resume his boxing career.

"It's similar to the surgery Sugar Ray Leonard had performed, and he went on to be successful in the ring," Thompson said. "But Pettway will need at least six to eight weeks for the eye to completely heal before he can resume training."

"Of course, it's a major disappointment," said Pettway, who had his gall bladder removed several months ago. "I was training real good, and I was ready to go to Las Vegas to finish preparing for Trinidad. I'm still hoping that I'll get to fight him some time this year."

With the fight only three weeks away, promoter Don King is scrambling to find a replacement.

"It will still be a mandatory fight for Trinidad," said King's veteran matchmaker, Bobby Goodman. "Hugo Pineda of Colombia is next in line, behind Pettway, according to the IBF rankings. I don't see him passing up the opportunity to fight a high-profile guy like Trinidad on Home Box Office, even if it's short notice."

If Pineda proves unwilling, Goodman said third-ranked Raul Frank, who is promoted by King, has expressed an interest.

The Trinidad-Pettway fight had been a shaky proposition from the start. Pettway was dissatisfied with his original contract offer, and his veteran manager-trainer, Mack Lewis, was forced to renegotiate with King.

Because Pettway has not won a meaningful fight since successfully defending his junior middleweight crown by knocking out Simon Brown four years ago, his position as the No. 1 challenger for Trinidad's 147-pound title had been strongly criticized by boxing writers across the country.

HBO, which signed a longtime contract with Trinidad, also had been extremely reluctant to accept Pettway as a suitable challenger.

Herb Lambeck, who operates a Las Vegas sports book, recently posted 100-1 odds on the fight.

Pub Date: 5/08/99

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