Baltimoreans improve rank, championship bout chances Pettway now IBF's No. 1; Rahman up from 7 to 3


Two Baltimore boxers, welterweight Vincent Pettway and heavyweight Hasim Rahman, have moved higher in the world rankings and closer to potential championship matches in 1998.

Pettway, the former junior middleweight king who dropped in weight after losing his 154-pound crown to Paul Vaden in 1995 and a title shot with Terry Norris last year, advanced from No. 2 to No. 1 in the International Boxing Federation welterweight rankings.

Pettway, 32, a product of Mack Lewis' Broadway gym, will fight a "tuneup" against journeyman Gerald Reed (15-18-2) in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Dec. 13, on a Don King card headed by a heavyweight match between Orlin Norris and Henry Akinwande.

Pettway would then appear to have two options. If current IBF welter champ Felix Trinidad decides to keep his title, he will have to face the Baltimorean in a mandatory defense.

But Trinidad, who has had trouble making the 147-pound limit, is expected to abdicate his title and challenge Norris at 154 pounds.

That would then set up a Pettway fight with No. 2 Mahenge Zulu, an African now living in Italy, for the welterweight title.

Pettway (40-6-1) has been idle since stopping Harold Bennett in three rounds 13 months ago but has trained steadily while waiting for the boxing politics to play out.

Rahman (24-0) jumped from seventh to third in the IBF heavyweight ratings after whipping fourth-ranked Obed Sullivan at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater on Nov. 1.

Brawling more than boxing, Rahman, 25, convinced co-manager Steve Nelson he needed more seasoning before challenging the likes of Evander Holyfield or Lennox Lewis for a title.

"He got a little tense because of the significance of the fight and showed some inexperience against Sullivan," Nelson said. "We just want to keep him active and in front of a boxing audience. By the end of 1998, we might be ready for a title challenge."

Meanwhile, Nelson has scheduled two fights for Rahman in the next two months. On Dec. 4, he will battle Tui Toia (14-11) at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, N.Y. He will then fight a more familiar name on HBO, Jan. 31, when he is matched against one-time title contender Jesse Ferguson (22-16), who has won his past three bouts.

Said Nelson: "The Ferguson fight will probably be in Atlantic City in conjunction with Bernard Hopkins defending his [IBF] middleweight title against Simon Brown."

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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