gCES Boxing kicks off the 2017 Twin River Casino Fight Series next month with an old-fashioned grudge match between the Bay State and the Big Apple. Khiary Gray (14-1, 11 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., returns Saturday, Feb. 4th, 2017 arainst Brooklyn’s Courtney Pennington (9-4-1, 5 KOs) in the eight-round headliner of CES Boxing’s season opener at the Twin River Event Center.
After capping 2016 with a dramatic, seventh-round knockout win over veteran Chris Chatman in October, Gray now faces the hard-hitting Pennington, who closed out the previous year with a stunning knockout victory over Boyd Melson in November, also in the seventh round.
Pennington and Gray are no stranger to big fights; Gray fought four times in 2016, highlighted by a dazzling second-round knockout win over Florida’s Quinton Willis followed by his network television debut on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation in July against New Jersey vet Ian Green. The 24-year-old rising star got off the deck in his final bout of the year, ending a back-and-forth struggle with Chatman with a thrilling knockout in the next to last round, his 10th in his last 12 fights.
The 30-year-old Pennington has won two of his last three bouts dating back to 2015, starting with a hard-earned majority decision win over fellow New Yorker Rich Nieves followed by a back-and-forth intrastate war against Freeport native Patrick Day at New York’s famed Paramount Theater. The combined record of Pennington’s last four opponents is an impressive 45-5-4. He’s fought the best of the best in the tri-state area and now ventures north to New England for the second time in his pro career after flattening Melson in the seventh round of their scheduled eight-round bout in Connecticut.
The Feb. 4th card features an additional title bout as New Haven, Conn., vet Josh Crespo (7-4-3, 3 KOs) faces unbeaten Timmy Ramos (4-0-1, 4 KOs) of Framingham, Mass., in a six-round bout for the vacant New England Super Featherweight Championship.
Crespo stopped 16-fight vet Jesus Gonzales in his last bout in November to halt a two-fight losing streak while Ramos closed 2016 with two impressive knockout wins, setting the stage for next month’s intriguing bout against the battle-tested Crespo, a two-time N.E. Super Bantamweight title challenger and former champion.
In a battle of unbeatens, Hartford, Conn., prospect Jose Rivera (2-0, 2 KOs) faces his toughest test to date in a six-round junior middleweight showdown against New Bedford, Mass., vet Ray Oliveira Jr. (6-0, 1 KO) and fellow undefeated prospects and decorated amateurs Jamaine Ortiz (2-0, 2 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., and Canton Miller (2-0, 1 KO) of Saint Louis, Mo., square off in a four-round lightweight battle.
Framingham’s Julio Perez (4-1) ends his nine-month layoff in a four-round intrastate showdown against Salem vet Matt Doherty (5-3-1, 3 KOs), who returns to Twin River for the first time since July of 2015. Following a busy 2016 in which he fought six times in seven months, Worcester’s Kendrick Ball Jr. (4-0-2, 3 KOs) faces Minneapolis’ Kenneth Glenn (3-2, 1 KO) in a four-round middleweight bout, and Framingham middleweight Christopher Davis-Fogg (2-0, 1 KO) makes his Twin River debut in a four-round bout against Anthony Everett (1-4) of Lawrence, Mass.
Taunton, Mass., welterweight Marqus Bates (0-1) aims to bounce back from a loss in his professional debut in a four-round battle against Providence, R.I., native Aaron Muniz, who makes his debut. Junior welterweights Khiry Todd (1-0, 1 KO) of Lynn, Mass., and Anthony Marsella (3-0, 2 KOs) of Providence will be featured in separate four-round bouts. Both appeared on the 2016 season finale at Twin River with first-round knockouts wins; Marsella stopped Devante Seay for his second consecutive knockout win and Todd dominated Patrick Leal in his professional debut.
The Feb. 4th card will also feature two special CES Ring of Honor ceremonies inducting famed boxing trainer Kevin Rooney, who worked with world champions Mike Tyson and Vinny Paz in his storied career, and the late Manny Lopes of Marshfield, Mass., a former light heavyweight prospect who fought his entire career with CES Boxing until retiring undefeated in 2010.