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Norris Hits Pettway With Faint Praise

February 23, 1996

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Howie Evans feels like a foreigner as he promotes a Saturday night boxing card headed by a junior middleweight title bout between Terry Norris and Vincent Pettway.

``This is NASCAR country, not boxing country,″ Evans said Thursday after Don King Productions introduced the boxers at a news conference.

Carl King said he’s hoping for a sellout, but Evans said they’ll be satisfied if they fill 10,000 of the 13,000 seats at Richmond Coliseum.

Norris, 42-6 with 26 knockouts, knows his opponent will be looking for one big opening to thrill the crowd and score a huge upset.

``He’s going to be looking to throw the big bomb and try to knock me out,″ said Norris, 28, of Campo, Calif. ``I’ll out-move him and out-box him.″

While it’s common for boxers to promote opponents before the gloves go on, Norris was brutally frank with his opinion of Pettway.

``He’s good, but he’s not one of the better fighters I’ve faced,″ said Norris, the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation 154-pound champion. ``I’m really not trying to hurt his feelings _ it’s just the truth.″

Pettway acknowledged that the lack of respect hurts.

``They’re looking right past me like I don’t even exist,″ Pettway said. ``That’s what’s surprising me.″

Then the 30-year-old native of Baltimore regained his bravado. ``Saturday, I’ll be like a snake in the grass. You don’t see it and then it comes up and bites you.″

Pettway, 38-5-1, won the IBF junior middleweight title with a fourth-round knockout of Gianfranco Rosi in September 1994. In August, he lost it to Paul Vaden on a TKO with 27 seconds left in the 12th round.

Norris gained the IBF title by outpointing Vaden on Dec. 16.

Norris defeated Sugar Ray Leonard in February 1991, a fight that began Norris’ reputation as a dirty fighter.

He was warned for trying to hit Leonard when he was on the canvas and was warned for a similar action in his next fight. Norris was disqualified twice for illegally punching Luis Santana _ in 1994 when Santana’s back was turned and in the 1995 rematch when Norris knocked him out after the bell.

Santana won the WBC super welterweight title on the first disqualification.

In the third fight, Norris put Santana away with a second-round TKO and regained the WBC super welterweight title. Norris added the IBF crown by defeating Vaden in a 12-round decision in December.

Norris’ older brother, Orlin, is also on the card Saturday in a rematch with Tony Tucker.

Orlin Norris, 44-4 with 25 knockouts, was the WBA cruiserweight champ in 1993-1995. Tucker, the IBF heavyweight titleholder in 1987, is 52-4 with 43 knockouts. He beat Norris in a 12-round decision four years ago.

A second heavyweight attraction matches former WBC champion Oliver McCall against undefeated and virtually untested Oleg Maskaev of Russia.

McCall lost the title last year in London to Frank Bruno, and with it a chance to earn a big payday against Mike Tyson. Bruno will fight Tyson on March 16 in Las Vegas.

Maskaev was expressionless when McCall bragged in the microphone, ``You think Rocky when he fought that Russian was something. Just wait ’til you see the whipping I’ll put on `The Beast from the East.‴

Asked for a response by King, trainer Tommy Gallagher said of Maskaev, ``He doesn’t understand English. He thought you were singing.″

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