Veteran Baltimore manager-trainer Mack Lewis attended the International Boxing Federation convention in Orlando, Fla., this week.
His main purpose was to arrange a title fight for his junior-middleweight contender, Vincent Pettway.
Instead, he received an award from the boxing group yesterday.
Lewis, 71, who has been training fighters at his Broadway gym for over 50 years, was named the IBF's "Sportsman of the Year."
"It's a real nice honor," said Lewis, "but I'd rather have signed a contract for Pettway to fight [IBF 154-pound champion] Gianfranco Rosi."
Lewis held unfruitful preliminary talks with foreign promoter Cedric Kushner, who has booked most of Rosi's championship matches in Italy.
"We plan on talking again," said Lewis, "but right now we're not even close on the size of Pettway's purse.
Rosi, who shared the IBF's "Fighter of the Year" award with bantamweight king Orlando Canizales, has a July championship match set against top-ranked Gilbert Dele of France. Pettway, ranked second, was eyeing a mandatory title bout in September.
After winning the USBA title from Gilbert Baptist in April, Pettway has received several lucrative offers, including a $75,000 proposal from promoter Don King to challenge WBC middleweight champion Julian Jackson.
"That's a nice-sized purse," said Lewis, "but who needs to fight that animal at 160 pounds when we're next in line for a 154-pound title shot?"
Lewis also has rejected a championship fight with unbeaten middleweight Roy Jones, another fearsome knockout artist. "We'd be more interested in having Pettway fight [former WBC welterweight champion] Simon Brown," Lewis said.
NOTES: Baltimore middleweight Percy Harris, who did not attend the convention, was named the IBF's Intercontinental Fighter of the Year for his upset victory of previously unbeaten Thomas Tate in Italy last year. In his most recent bout two months ago, Harris was stopped in the 10th round by USBA champion Lamar Parks at Madison Square Garden.