Baltimore's Vincent Pettway, next in line for Gianfranco Rosi's International Boxing Federation junior-middleweight crown, got a solid endorsement from matchmaker J. D. Brown last night after Pettway defended his U.S. Boxing Association title by stopping Dan Sherry of Canada in the 11th round of their scheduled 12-round bout.
Ring physician Ian Weiner stopped the fight before the final round, ruling Sherry, who suffered deep lacerations over both eyes, was unfit to continue.
"I've gained a lot of respect for Pettway," said Brown, who books fights for Sherry. "I think he can beat any junior middleweight in the world, including Rosi."
But this was far from an easy fight for Pettway, who improved his record to 36-4, including 29 knockouts. At 149 pounds after a bout with the flu, he had to give up 5 pounds and at least 3 inches to the rangy Sherry, who kept him off balance in the early rounds with a swarming style.
But Pettway gained Sherry's respect in the third round, flooring him with a counter right. Sherry beat the count and made the middle rounds close with his effective jabs and combinations. Whenever Pettway landed a telling punch, Sherry, who was schooled for several years by Sugar Ray Leonard, quickly tied up the champion.
But the former Canadian amateur champion now living in Crofton began to tire in the closing rounds when blood streamed down his face and Pettway pressed his advantage.
Two of the officials -- Paul Artisst and Vaughan Laprade -- had Pettway comfortably ahead by 108-100 and 107-101 margins, respectively. But the third judge, Karl Milligan, had Sherry in front 105-103 when the doctor intervened.
Promoter Stuart Satosky's nine-bout card drew a paid crowd of 2,500.
New York junior welterweight Pedro Saiz (15-0-2) appeared fortunate to remain unbeaten in escaping with a rousing 10-round draw against relentless Lyndon Paul Walker (8-3-4) of Washington.
Rawboned Rockville middleweight Les Johnson needed just a little more than two minutes to stop Laurel's Charlie Tuttle in a scheduled eight-round bout.
Referee Larry Barrett stopped it at 2:12 of the first round.
In a crowd-pleasing eight-round heavyweight bout, 21-year-old Jason Waller (17-3-1) of Stafford, Va., repeatedly staggered a game Butch Kelly (7-12) but failed to claim the Baltimorean as his 14th knockout victim. Kelly, 33, was applauded for simply surviving the beating.
Jake "The Snake" Smith (8-2-1) of Arbutus found time between clowning to win a split decision over journeyman John Keys (7-17-1) of Baltimore in their six-round light-heavyweight match.
Promising Baltimore welterweight Ed Griffin stretched his unbeaten record to 5-0 by punishing Severn's James Furr (1-5) with hard body shots and combinations in the last two rounds.
Left-handed heavyweight Albert Williams, of Newport News, Va., made a successful pro debut by carrying the fight to Mike Whitfield (3-3), a George Foreman look-alike. Williams won the early rounds and held off a late rally by the stalking Whitfield.
In the opening four-rounder, aggressive middleweight William Joppe (2-0) of Silver Spring wore down Shane Martin of Millville, N.J., spoiling Martin's pro debut with a knockout at 2:29 of the third round.