All things considered, it wouldn't have been surprising had Vincent Pettway come out last night -- actually, early this morning -- and put on a bad exhibition of the manly art at the Pikesville Armory.
After all, it was just about midnight when the bell sounded for round one; his opponent, Frank Montgomery, was tall, crafty and difficult to fight; and, there had been that unpleasantness in his camp earlier in the evening.
But, no sir, Pettway pounded out a unanimous decision, winning or sharing each of the 10 rounds while running his record to 33-4. He was the aggressor throughout, staggering Montgomery (17-7) a few times and putting him down in the sixth round. His attacking style was a welcome relief from his sometimes too cautious, safety-first approach.
"I had to press him," Pettway explained, "because I had to make the fight. He wasn't going to."
Before the early morning excitement, the seemingly endless show had reaffirmed the suspicion that Murphy's Law (no relation to the old light-heavy Irish Bob) does indeed apply to boxing.
On nights when a card has few bouts due to pullouts and other manmade disasters, it's almost a certainty that early-round knockouts will be the order of the day. Conversely, on cards where there are many matches listed and countless rounds scheduled, darned if all fights don't go the distance.
Even with Percy Harris pulling out Monday to go fight in Italy, taking eight rounds with him, the show still contained nine bouts and 52 rounds and 50 of them got fought. Include Rex Barney's stirring introductions and an impromptu picture-taking session involving the ring card girls and the show lasted longer than some wars. Good thing somebody left a door open and the armory was like a meat locker; otherwise, half the 1,000 in attendance would have dozed off for sure.
In the co-feature eight, Les Johnson stopped Ray Ruiz (6-4) with a series of shots in the sixth to run his record to 13-1. Through the first five rounds, it appeared the middleweights should have been given something to hit each other with since their fists just weren't doing it.
Six-rounders saw Georgie Pindell (11-2) thoroughly thrash Tracey Muse (9-4) and Cecil Sims (6-3) bomb Robert Curry (18-24) for unanimous decision wins. Lou Benson (17-9) won all six rounds from Butch Kelly (6-3), which somehow translated into a split-decision nod.
In four-rounders, Mike Whitfield gave himself a reason to get in better shape by beating Joe Hamilton (0-4) in his ring debut, Tyrone Washington (2-0) defeated Ed Griffin (0-1) and the Steve Frederick (2-2)-Wade Duncan (4-0) match was called a draw. The latter decision upset Duncan's manager-trainer Mack Lewis so much, he threatened to pull his fighters out of subsequent matches.
"I wasn't concerned with not fighting [if a boycott had been ordered], I was just concerned with Mr. Mack's health," said Pettway. "It got excited like that once before, in Philadelphia."
Pettway assumed control almost immediately, shooting the jab, then landing heavily with an overhand right. When inside, he went to the body, "and every time I hit him with a body shot, I heard him groan a little bit." Completing the package was his ability to see Montgomery's punches, an uppercut and left hook to the ribs, and avoid them.