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Vinny Maddalone trying to shed image of past white heavyweights

White heavyweight.

Those two words next to each other usually illicit a cackle from the run-of-he mill boxing fan, as images of Fainting Phil Scott, Gerry Cooney and the like run through his brain.

Vinny Maddalone is hoping to change that perception forever.

The 27-year-old Bayside resident is undefeated with a record of 12-0 with seven knockouts, but, perhaps more than other fighters, Maddalone has to earn every bit of respect that comes his way. That’s just how it is for a white heavyweight these days.

“It’s tough,” Maddalone confesses. “It’s almost a stereotype. It was funny, going into the gym, especially in Gleason’s. You have to earn their respect. Now, they treat me as one of the guys.

“A lot of people are going to criticize you because you’re white,” he added. “I’m there for the crowd and to just go in there and fight. I’m there just to fight.”

The stereotypes surrounding white heavyweight boxers are part of the business, Maddalone said, which is why he said he is working extra hard in the gym, taking part in sparring wars at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn as part of his evolution as a fighter.

One of Maddalone’s frequent sparring partners is contender Oleg Maskaev, who once defeated current heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman. The two spar three rounds, three times a week these days.

And for every negative stereotype that goes along with being a fair-skinned boxer above 200 pounds, there are also advantages.

“I’m the minority,” Maddalone said. “Mostly it’s black and Latino fighters. I’m the white guy.”

A minority maybe, but a commodity for sure. And instead of taking the easy road — a path traveled by many white heavyweights who have come before —Maddalone, with manager Bob Lancellotti and trainer Bob Jackson, is not taking any light touches on his road to contender.

“There’s nobody I’m fighting who’s going in there to lose,” he said. “They are there to knock me out. Now that I’m undefeated, it boosts their career up. It’s even harder work now. I’m just giving everything I got to training.”

Earning respect of boxing fans is what is paramount to Maddalone. In the vain of another boxer with Italian lineage, Arturo Gatti, Maddalone prides himself on being an action fighter who is not above taking a punch to deliver one.

“In my heart, i know when people see me fight they will not be disappointed,” he said. “I’m going to give 100 percent every time I go into the ring. People who are going to come to see me fight are going to appreciate me. I’m just going in there with God standing by me.”

The most famous and most successful Italian-American heavyweight in history was Rocky Marciano, who pulled the world championship away from an aging Jersey Joe Walcott with one mighty short right hand on Sept. 23, 1952. Marciano made six successful defenses of the crown before retiring as undefeated champ.

That was more than 45 years ago, but Marciano’s legacy has had staying power, and comparisons between Maddalone and the Brockton Blockbuster are made almost daily.

“As an Italian-American, the big thing is Rocky Marciano,” Maddalone said. “He’s one of my heroes. We have similar styles and I got a pretty good chin. To be compared to him, that’s unbelievable.”

Maddalone’s most recent outing was an eight-round decision win over Errol Sevakowski, a former New York Golden Gloves champ, whom Maddalone knew well from their days of sparring together in the gym.

“I knew that would be a tough fight and it went the distance,” Maddalone said. “This is the learning process. You want to get the rounds in to get the experience. The fights are getting tougher now. They are not getting easier.”

Maddalone’s next start could be a big step up for the fighter. Hopefully, he said, he will box on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, a nationally televised show.

“It’s moving along,” he said. “Right now I just got to be patient and keep working hard and everything will fall into place.”

That includes his opponents.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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