Friday, February 07, 2014

Beltway Boxing History At DC Weigh-In!

Vincent Pettway (left) and Victor Davis (right) recreate their face off from their historic contest of April 3, 1990 in Philadelphia, PA at the Weigh-in for the Babie Girl Productions card that will be held tonight at the DC Armory.  Alfred Grant, deputy commissioner of the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission, officiates.

(Photo courtesy of Tony Berrios)

There was a moment during Thursday's Babie Girl Productions weigh-in that I couldn't let slide by.  Two Beltway Boxing legends were in attendance -- two local legends who once fought each other in a bout that many still talk about some 23 years later.

The date was April 3, 1990 and the place was the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, PA.  USA Network televised the card during their Tuesday Night Fights telecast.  What happened was a magical night when Victor Davis of DC met Vincent "The Ambassador" Pettway of Baltimore in a 10-round contest.

The bout wasn't even really supposed to take place -- George Foreman, in the midst of his comeback, was supposed to be the main event but his contest fell through.  Davis and Pettway had less than a week to prepare for the contest. However, they were very familiar with each other having faced each other four times during the amateurs -- each winning twice.  Of course, both men were trained by legends -- Davis by his father, Adrian and Pettway by Mack Lewis.

As an aside -- The card turned out to be a Beltway Boxing showcase. Future world champions Sharmba Mitchell (who unveiled his famous suspenders to the boxing world as this was the first bout after former world champ Bazooka Limon intentionally pulled down his trunks in an Atlantic City bout the previous month) and Keith Holmes in just his fourth pro bout) also fought on the card as did Baltimore Boxers Scott Jones and Tracy Muse.

The following description of the bout comes from legendary Philadelphia boxing writer and hall of famer Bernard Fernandez in the April 4, 1990 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News:

The first round was a tipoff to what was to follow. Pettway (30-3, 25 knockouts), a Baltimore resident rated No. 7 by the International Boxing Federation, came out swinging and was met in the center of the ring by an equally determined Davis. The round basically was an extended exchange of punches, which ended with the two men trying to wrestle one another to the canvas.

As early as the fourth round, Davis (19-8-1, 10 KOs) appeared spent. But every time Pettway tried to move in for the kill, Davis, from Landover, Md., tapped some source of inner rejuvenation and answered with a flurry of his own.

"It was heart, man," Davis said. "I could feel the fatigue, but I didn't give in to it. I fought through it."

And how. The seventh round had to be seen to be believed, Davis and Pettway seizing and relinquishing the upper hand in rapid-fire intervals. They continued to punch away after the bell ending the round sounded, and when referee Frank Cappuccino stepped in to separate them, he was tagged with a glancing shot from Davis that opened a cut on his nose. The card's other referee, Joe O'Neill, replaced him in the eighth round, although Cappuccino returned for the ninth.

As it turned out, the ninth round was the last round. During the course of another toe-to-toe burst, a right from Davis opened a deep, ugly gash over Pettway's left eye that proved to be more serious than the assorted nicks, bumps and bruises the two men had inflicted upon one another.

Pettway and his manager-trainer, Mack Lewis, were outraged when Steinberg advised Cappuccino to stop the fight, but the doctor insisted he had made the right call.

"Tissue was hanging out," Steinberg said. "The cut looked like it was all the way to the bone."

Were it not for the stoppage, the outcome might well have hinged on the 10th round that never took place. Judge Manny Altman had Pettway comfortably ahead, 43-39, but Marsha Taylor and Paul Harris favored Davis by 42-41 and 41-39 margins, respectively. The Daily News card had Pettway up, 42-41.

"I think I should have been given the benefit of the doubt, but the doctor did what he did and I guess I have to accept it," Pettway said. "I will say this, though. I never expected Victor Davis to put up a fight like that."

The promoter of the card, Frank Gelb, added $500 to each man's $5,000 purse for their great efforts.  USA Network Boxing Analyst and former world champion Sean O'Grady simply called it "a, great, great fight."  When USA Network ended the Tuesday Night Fights series in 1998, the Davis-Pettway bout was among its top 10 bouts in the history of the series.

Ironically, both men would lose their very next contest after facing each other.  Davis lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Darryl Lattimore on June 15, 1990 at Coolidge Senior High School in DC while Pettway was stopped in the sixth round by Stephan Johnson at the old Painters Mill Theatre in Owings Mills, MD on November 13, 1990.

From there, the careers of both men took divergent paths.  Pettway would go undefeated in his next six contests over a three-year period leading him to two world title shots for the IBF Junior Middleweight title against champion Gianfranco Rosi.  The first contest on March 4, 1994 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, NV, ended in a six-round technical draw when the two men butted heads in what had been a foul-plagued contest.  Rosi suffered a nasty cut over his left eye and could not continue.  Since the bout had not gone the full six rounds, the bout was declared a technical draw.

Both men returned to the MGM Grand on September 17, 1994 for the rematch.  This time, Pettway would knock out Rosi with a left hook in the fourth round to win the IBF title and become the first world champion from Baltimore in more than 80 years.

For Davis, things would get a little rougher as, although he won most of his bouts during that same four-year period, outside issues would stunt a promising career.  Davis would help launch the historic "Ballroom Boxing" promotion at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, MD by being involved in the first main event in the history of the series.  Davis would lose by a second-round TKO to Richmond, VA's Napoleon Pitt on September 2, 1995.

Today, both men are top trainers in the Beltway region, passing down what they have learned to future generations.  Both men will be working the corners during tonight's card in the Armory and Both men are Beltway Boxing legends!  Seeing them together at the weigh-in created an opportunity that I couldn't let pass.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a recap! This brings back a lot of great memories! Well done Gary, well done!

Fight Doctor (J. Spears)

Anonymous said...

If anyone has the video, please post it. Would love to see it. Tried to find it on youtube already...