In the final analysis, it was just the sort of fight a guy needs when he's getting ready to challenge for a world championship, although Vincent Pettway probably isn't buying into the thinking right now.
Due to face champion Gianfranco Rosi for the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight crown and hopeful it happens within a few months, Pettway hadn't had any serious ring work in more than a year heading into last night's 12-rounder against Dan Sherry at the Baltimore Arena.
He had to have work desperately and he got it, 11 rounds worth before referee Ray Klingmeyer called a halt to the brisk action with Sherry leaking blood from a couple of nasty cuts over both eyes. Pettway retained his U.S. Boxing Association 154-pound title with his 36th victory in 40 fights.
Early on, it appeared Pettway might have to be back in the gym this evening to complete a desired workout when Sherry crumbled under a whistling right hand delivered midway through the third round. Pettway was working with quicker hands, sharper and more accurate punches and superior defensive skills.
After an impressive first round, suddenly the game Canadian seemed to be at the end of nearly every Pettway punch as the Baltimore fighter pressed his advantage throughout the fourth round, ending it with a slashing left hook.
But Sherry was just getting started. No matter what, he was there forcing the action and, through the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds, he was cooking, closing the gap in the scoring.
Pettway had a strong 10th round to change the momentum and assure himself the victory if the bout went to a decision.
Pettway was ahead on the cards of two judges, 108-102 and 107-101, when the end came. The other official saw it for Sherry, 105-103, mainly because he did all the forcing. But he did most of the catching, too.
Fully as entertaining as the main event on a card that took a while to get moving was the 10-round co-feature pitting Pedro Siaz and Lyndon Paul Walker. Siaz, from The Bronx, remained unbeaten through 17 fights, but now he has two draws on his record as Walker, from Hillcrest Heights, rallied to finish even.
Siaz, who not only is very good but left-handed, registered a knockdown fresh out of the gate in the first round. Walker, now 8-3-4, took some time finding an effective attacking pattern before dominating the second half of the 10-round standoff. The lightweights, who were going at it at bantamweight speed, must have landed a thousand punches apiece.
The show might have gone on well past midnight if Les Johnson hadn't shortened an eight-rounder to just two minutes and 12 seconds by belting out Charlie Tuttle with a left hook. Johnson raised his record to 17-2 while Tuttle fell to 8-6.
In other bouts, Butch Kelly (7-11) got off to a running start, but was caught and passed by Jason Waller (17-3) over eight rounds. Jake Smith (8-2) defeated John Keys (7-17) in a six, though barely. In four-rounders, Ed Griffin ran his unbeaten streak to five with a unanimous decision over James Furr (1-5); Al Williams made his pro debut a success by outlasting Mike Whitfield (4-3); and William Joppe (2-0) KO'd Shane Martin (0-1) RTC in 2:29 of the third round.
Baltimore Professional Bouts Inc. stages its next card Sept. 10 at Martin's West.