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Women’s boxer Shelito Vincent looking to rise toward title; fights July 21 at Mohegan

With three fights under her belt, Vincent looking to take her career to the next level:

Believe it or not, the Shelito Vincent who won each of her first three professional fights in dominant fashion was actually a toned-down version of the one we might see Saturday night.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the ring,” said Vincent (3-0), who will put her undefeated record on the line Saturday, July 21st, 2012 against Ivana Coleman of Slidell, La., in a four-round bantamweight bout on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s “The Fire Within” professional boxing show, presented by Classic Entertainment & Sports at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

“Everything is starting to come together. Expect to see a lot of great things coming.”

For Vincent – raised in New London, Conn., and now training in Providence, R.I. – one of the biggest hurdles was adjusting to her new life as a professional boxer, which began in October with a win over Karen Dulin.

Now she’s in search of her fourth consecutive victory under the promotional guidance of Burchfield, who is no stranger to the intricacies of women’s boxing; he helped guide Jaime Clampitt to two world titles during her 10-year career.

“[Signing a long-term contract] is something all of us girls want,” Vincent said. “I’ve always wanted Jimmy to support me. This is the team I’m going to be with for my whole career.”

Burchfield and the rest of the viewing audience next Saturday might witness Vincent’s best performance to date. Her comfort level has increased dramatically within the past nine months, and she’s finally broken out of her shell both in and outside of the ring, which could be bad news for Coleman.

“My last fight was my best fight,” said Vincent, who beat Carmen Cruz unanimously in March to improve to 3-0. “I just felt as though I was in a certain rhythm and everything came together. My combinations were good, I was coming up underneath – all the training and work I put into that fight brought out the best in me.

“Boxing is like anything else; the more you do it, the more comfortable you get. It was like that in the amateurs, too, and now I’m starting to get that same feeling as a pro.”

Coleman has never boxed professionally, but she has a 1-2 record in professional mixed martial arts, so Vincent is expecting the unexpected next weekend, something she’s prepared for in camp by sparring other mixed martial arts fighters.

“The thing I’ve noticed about them is everything they do is wide, whether it’s the way they punch, or their footwork – everything is wide, more so than boxers,” Vincent said. “I’ll try to use my jab and work off that, and just move around more.

“She has a good right hand and hits hard. A lot of times when I spar other MMA girls their feet are all over the place. They’re actually harder to spar with than someone who has boxing skills. They’re more awkward. That’s what I’m expecting.”

Vincent is also expecting tremendous fan support, which has become a theme at each of her professional fights. With a captivating background stemming from her rough childhood, she’s become an ally for troubled youth both in Connecticut and Rhode Island. After this fight, she’ll continue her tour of Connecticut schools, relaying her story to children to help make sure they don’t go through the same thing she went through growing up. She’s also participating in the World Boxing Council’s WBC Cares anti-bullying campaign.

“I love doing this in my spare time. I think it’s my calling,” she said. “I just love working with kids. I think it would’ve been such a big difference in my life I had someone to talk to growing up.”

Part of Vincent’s message is the need for discipline and structure, which she developed later in life through boxing. She turned the corner for good in 2008 and won a national Golden Gloves title before making her pro debut at the age of 32.

“The boxing kept me on track. It made me not afraid. It made me feel strong,” Vincent said. “It brings a lot of stuff out of me. Hitting the bag is like running. If you’re having a bad day, go to the gym, hit the bag and let it all out.

“It’s definitely been the most positive thing for me in my life. Like I always tell people, boxing saved my life.”

Vincent’s new life inside the ring is off to a tremendous start, and with Burchfield in her corner, the sky’s the limit. The female bantamweight division is wide open, and Vincent’s rise to the top could continue Saturday with another impressive performance.

“The ultimate goal is to get some belts and bring them back to CES and New London,” she said. “I want to make everyone in my city proud. To be the best, who doesn’t want that? That’ll be the best feeling in my life. I think I’ll get it – I know I will. I’ll make sure no one else works harder than I do.”

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