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Pebbles Hopes He Doesn't Find Jackson Made of Bedrock

October 26, 1985|STEVE SPRINGER | Times Staff Writer

Each has been up.

Each has been down.

And each will now attempt to use the other to rebound.

Frankie Duarte, meet Freddie Jackson.

These two bantamweight fighters will be trying to knock the other off the road to a title shot when they meet in Tuesday night's main event at The Country Club in Reseda.

For Jackson (31-4, 21 KOs), the No. 2 bantamweight in the World Boxing Council rankings, Duarte is another notch he must carve before he can again attempt to put on a championship belt.

Last spring, that belt slipped away after finally moving within the grasp of his ferocious fists following what seemed like an eternity in the ring.

Jackson had fought 175 bouts as an amateur, winning 165 of them. He was a five-time Golden Glove champion in his home state of Arkansas and a five-time AAU champ.

But his work was just beginning. As were his frustrations.

Jackson turned pro and came to Houston in 1978, but his career appeared to be dead before the opening bell when he couldn't get enough financial backing.

He was ready to throw in the towel, go back to Arkansas and join the U.S. Army.

On his last night in Texas, he got a better offer--from Willie Savannah.

Savannah, who sponsored amateurs in the Houston area, offered to open a gym to train Jackson and several other prospects.

Scratch one Army recruit.

Jackson found himself in good company in the newly opened Savannah Boxing Club. Working with him were junior welterweight Ronnie Shields and welterweight Eddie Green, a pair of medalists in the 1980 U.S. Olympic trials.

That same year, Jackson was in Los Angeles, fighting Oscar Muniz at the Olympic Auditorium for the North American Boxing Federation crown.

The Houston bantamweight suffered his first loss that night, though Savannah claimed one of the judge's cards had been altered.

Despite his protest, the decision stood, but the 5-foot 3-inch, 119-pound Jackson was to cost himself even greater frustration in the future.

He suffered one of his four losses when he was disqualified because of a low blow in a bout with Harold Petty.

Then came last spring and the biggest frustration of all.

Figuring he was ahead on points in the seventh round of a championship fight in the Caribbean, Jackson felt he needed only to hang on against Daniel Zaragoza to win the WBC title.

Instead, Jackson was again disqualified, this time because of a head butt.

"It was a dirty fight," Jackson says. "He came out butting and throwing low blows. I lost my composure and started using dirty tactics as well. But I'm not going to look at the past, only the future."

That future looked a bit cloudy last month when Jackson climbed into the ring against No. 5-rated Hurley Snead and then had to climb off the floor twice following knockdowns. But Jackson came back to win and Savannah is again confident another title shot is ahead.

But first, there is Duarte.

The Venice bantamweight, who fights out of North Hollywood's Ten Goose Boxing organization, is familiar with frustration of a very different nature.

A brilliant boxing career, that began with 14 knockouts in his first 16 bouts, appeared to have dissolved in a bottle four years ago. Duarte, plagued with the problem of alcoholism, retired in his late 20s.

But with the help of Ten Goose and a resolute determination to reform, he appears to have licked both his addiction and his opposition in a comeback that climaxed with a non-title bout against WBA bantamweight champ Richie Sandoval last spring.

Duarte lost that fight on a split decision to drop his record to 35-6. He has fought only once since, stopping Ron Cisneros in seven rounds last month at The Country Club for his 26th KO.

Confidence does not appear to be a problem for either as they approach Tuesday.

"I am not taking him (Duarte) lightly but I feel very good," Jackson says. "I'm going to wait until after Oct. 29th to do all my talking."

But then, he can't resist a bit of braggadocio.

"I can box and I have power," Jackson says. "I can dance like Muhammad Ali. I can fight like Joe Frazier. After one round, I can adjust to any style. I can fight them if they are left-handed. I can fight them if they are right-handed. And I can fight them if they are even-handed."

Even-handed? Is that like throwing a two-fisted jab?

Whatever, Duarte couldn't hold back a jab at his younger (Jackson is 25) opponent.

Jackson's nickname is Pebbles. "I was given that when I was a teen-ager because they said I'm just a piece of the rock," he said. "I'm from Little Rock."

Counters Duarte: "I don't think I should be considered a tune-up for anyone.

"If he's Pebbles, after I fight him, they'll call me 'Boulder.' "

Tuesday's semi-main event will spotlight heavyweight Tex Cobb, now living in Sherman Oaks and hoping for a shot at the new heavyweight champ, Michael Spinks. Cobb (25-6 with 20 KOs) will meet Dee Collier (10-3, 4 KOs).

Also on the card will be Kenny Wyatt vs. Robert Ortiz (featherweights), Larry Ponce vs. Darrell Colquist (welterweights), Danny Ortiz vs. Arturo Lizarraga (junior welterweights), Kevin Payne vs. Indio Veronica (welterweights) and Derwin Richards vs. Carl McCoy (lightweights).

The top seats have been bumped up from $25 to $60 for Tuesday night. From there, the other tickets go down to $50, $35, $25 and $10.

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