When “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo Jr., returns to the ring Friday, May 13th, 2016 at Twin River Casino for the first time in more than two years, he’ll do so with the same unrelenting courage and confidence he’s carried throughout the course of his career, again answering the bell against a hungry, up-and-comer, fellow Providence native Angel Camacho Jr.
The 10-round Manfredo-Camacho showdown headlines the latest installment of CES Boxing’s 2016 Twin River Casino Fight Series, a loaded lineup featuring two title bouts and the Rhode Island debuts of CES’ newest additions to the roster.
“These are the kind of fights the fans want to see in this modern-day boxing climate. These are the fights that will keep this sport alive,” CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. said. “On May 13th, you have two fighters willing to put everything on the line, one who is a Rhode Island icon and the other who needs to put aside his own admiration and respect for his opponent in order to earn his spot among the elite fighters in his weight class.
“We bring our fans major-league fights with major-league ramifications and that tradition continues May 13th. From top to bottom, you won’t see a better fight card in New England or anywhere else in 2016. Every fight is competitive. Every fight is a pick-’em fight.”
May 13th is Manfredo’s first fight since November of 2013, when he stopped Rhode Island’s Rich Gingras in the 8th round of a scheduled 10-round bout. Coincidentally, Camacho’s last win was also against Gingras via 8th-round stoppage in September for the then vacant Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) International Light Heavyweight Title.
Citing he feels “great,” the 36-year-old Manfredo expresses a desire to make one more run to the top while leaning on his experience and ring generalship to carry him past the younger Camacho, who turns 33 in July.
“I had two and a half years off and when I approached Jimmy and told him I wanted to fight again, I said, ‘Whoever you’ve got,'” Manfredo said at Tuesday’s Media Day to officially announce the May 13th bout. “I feel young. I feel good.
“I’m already ready. If the fight were tomorrow, I’d be ready. If you feel good and you look good, then there’s really no fear. There’s nothing he’s going to show me that I haven’t seen. I’ve been in there with the best fighters in the world and have only lost to the best. I don’t feel like he’s on my level. I’m a better fighter than him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, don’t get me wrong, but I still feel like I’m on a different level.”
Camacho shares in the respect and admiration for his opponent, a Rhode Island icon who he admits he grew up watching on public access and openly rooted for when Manfredo fought Joe Calzaghe for the super middleweight title in 2007. Now the two stand toe-to-toe May 13th and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.
A win over Manfredo could propel Camacho’s career to new heights. The 32-year-old Providence native is at the top of his game, having won each of his last three fights since ending a three-year layoff in November of 2014 with a win over Paul Gonsalvez. Since then, Camacho has beaten regional favorite Chris Chatman and Gingras, cementing his status as one of the top super middleweights in the northeast.
“I will win this fight and it’s going to launch me into the stratosphere,” Camacho said. “I’m getting the opportunity to fight someone I looked up to as a young buck before I even started boxing in the amateurs. I get to fight Peter Manfredo, my hometown hero? Absolutely, I’ll fight him.”
Manfredo’s resume is well publicized. The Providence native rose to fame as a finalist on Season 1 of The Contender and became a global star with knockout wins over regional rivals Scott Pemberton and Joey Spina in 2006. Manfredo parlayed his newfound success into a Pay Per View bout in Las Vegas against Jeff Lacy in addition to world-title bouts against Calzaghe, Sakio Bika and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Upon returning to the regional scene in 2012, Manfredo dazzled in wins over Rayco Saunders and Walter Wright before knocking out Gingras a year later.
On May 13th, his latest return to Twin River highlights a tremendous lineup featuring two title bouts. In addition to Manfredo-Camacho, undefeated Worcester, Mass., junior middleweight Khiary Gray (12-0, 9 KOs) defends his UBF Northeast Title against Fort Meyers, Fla., vet Quinton Willis (10-3-2, 5 KOs) in an 8-round bout.
“I’m proud to be on this card,” said Gray, who last fought in February in a unanimous decision win over Eduardo Flores. “The dude I’m fighting, I don’t know anything about him. This is nothing new to me. I don’t take him lightly. He’s got 10 wins and five knockouts, but he has nothing to lose. He has three losses. I have everything to lose, but he’s not going to take my belt. He’s not going to win a round from me.
“This is either going eight rounds or not, because I’m not losing my ‘0’ for anybody.”
In a fight that could steal the show, regional standouts Nick DeLomba (8-1, 2 KOs) of Cranston, R.I., and the undefeated Freddy Sanchez (7-0, 5 KOs) of Worcester face off in a 6-round bout for the vacant New England Super Featherweight Title. DeLomba is looking to rebound from a first-round knockout loss to Gledwin Ortiz in September while Sanchez returns to the ring for the first time in two and a half months after suffering a no decision against Antonio Fernandes due to an accidental head-butt and subsequent cut over his right eye.
“There’s really not much to say about this fight,” Sanchez said at Wednesday’s pep rally / press conference in Worcester. “I’m just going to go in there and do what I’ve got to do. I do my talking in the ring.”
Added DeLomba: “I’ve never worked so hard in my life or been as excited about a fight as I am for this one. You’re going to see a whole new fighter on May 13th.”
The undercard also features the Rhode Island return of New Haven, Conn., welterweight Jimmy Williams (10-0-1, 5 KOs), who puts his unbeaten record on the line against the hard-hitting Juan Rodriguez Jr. (12-4, 5 KOs) of Union City, N.J., and the northeast debut of CES’ latest acquisition, lightweight Divante Jones (7-0, 5 KOs) of Columbia, S.C., in a 4-round bout.
Rivalries will renew May 13th in a highly anticipated rematch between Stoughton, Mass., super featherweight Travis Demko (4-0, 1 KO) and Mohamad Allam (2-1, 1 KO) of Holyoke, Mass. The two faced one another in September with Demko winning by unanimous decision in a 4-round bout. They will now settle the score May 13th in a 6-round bout.
“All the shit-talking is done. I don’t have much to say. You all saw the last fight. This is going to be a different fight,” Allam said. “I’m in a much better place mentally, physically. I’ve never trained like this in my life.
“When you see me, you’re going to see a different person. I’m going to have everyone there asking, ‘Who’s that kid?'”
Also returning to Twin River, unbeaten Framingham, Mass., lightweight Julio Perez (4-0) faces Providence’s Cido Hoff (0-0-1) in a 4-round bout, while two fighters from Worcester make their professional debuts.
Kendrick Ball Jr., the son of Gray’s head trainer, Kendrick Ball, debuts in a 4-round super middleweight bout against Providence’s Tunde Odumosu, trained by Rhode Island’s Victor Fagnant.
“I’m thankful to Jimmy for allowing me to make my pro debut on this exciting card,” Ball Jr. said. “I’ve been working hard and I’m ready to go in there and get the job done.”
Also from Worcester, decorated amateur Jamaine Ortiz, another new member of the CES team, debuts in a 4-round super lightweight bout against Skowhegan, Maine vet Josh Parker (0-2-1). Ortiz signed a long-term promotional agreement with CES during a special announcement at Wednesday’s rally. A former New England Golden Gloves champion, Western N.E. Golden Gloves titlist and semifinalist in the 2015 U.S. Olympic Trials, Ortiz turns 20 later this month.
“I’m very excited about being showcased on this card and I’m excited to be with the CES family,” Ortiz said. “From here on out, it’s going to be fireworks and the whole team is going to blow up. Worcester is going to blow up, and that’s what I’m here to do, to showcase Worcester and show we produce great fighters.”