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Part 3 of 3
November 12, 2008
For over twenty-years, Jimmy Burchfield of Classic Entertainment and Sports has been promoting world class fights not only in New England but all over the world. He has done it all in the sport from being a referee, to an international boxing judge, to being the president of his own very successful promotional company.
On November 13th, CES Boxing along with Jeff Wald and the Tournament of Contenders are holding the “Tough and Tested” fight card featuring “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo Jr. (31-5, 16 KOs) taking on Sakio Bika (26-3-2, 16 KOs) for the IBO super middleweight title from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI.
In the final installment of this three part interview, Mr. Burchfield talks about the formula for building fighters into world champions, why a lot of amateur boxing talent in the game today should sign with CES Boxing, and how on November 13th, CES hopes to add another world champion to their list of past and present world champions.
Since you have been promoting fighters for over twenty years, what is your formula for developing these fighters into world champions?
I think first of all the athlete or the boxer themselves has to have, and one of the first things I ask when I interview a fighter is why do you want box. And if they say anything less than I want to be a world champion, I don’t want to sign them.
I look at also the talent of them being a formula of them being very talented in boxing, but I also want to know what they do outside of the ring. I want to know what their morals are.
I want to know if they care about education because if they do not make it in boxing, that it is important to me that they have something that they have something else to go to. So I love a boxer that is in college or has gone to college and is doing something else with their life too. Those are the kind of ingredients.
I remember Peter Manfredo Jr. and he was (10-0) or (11-0) at the time and he was scheduled for a big fight at Foxwoods Casino. His opponent came into the fight eleven pounds overweight.
Peter had sold about 300 tickets to the fight and I was begging the commission to let Peter come up in weight a few pounds or let the kid come down a few pounds, but there was just too many pounds to make it safe for both fighters. The commission said that Peter could not fight, and I looked at Peter.
He was young at the time, probably around 21 or so at the time. He just put his arm around me and held me and said, ‘Mr. B, I watched everything and know that you did everything you possibly could. Don’t be sorry, we will fight another time.
So you look at what the athlete is made out of. If tomorrow you have to worry about them being arrested, you have to worry about them doing drugs, you have to worry that they are not serious because I am a little different than most promoters. I will take a fighter from the infancy of (0-0) and turn him into a pro, but it is just like bringing up a child, it takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of money.
It takes a gigantic effort to bring a fighter up properly. Those are the kind of things that I look for. It is a given thing that if a fighter is talented. Basically right now the type of fighter that I really look for is a fighter that can box and punch. It has to be a fighter that television is going to want to work with. That is where it has to get to for me to be able to do justice for the fighter.
That is the type of fighter, the type that can fill arenas up, like Vinny Paz did and Peter Manfredo Jr. can do. They have got to fill up their home base. Television loves that magic. They love them arenas full of excitement.
We have got a young fighter. He wasn’t born with all of the talents in the world. But man is he exciting to watch, at any time he can knock you out. He is a little awkward, doesn’t follow all of the natural talent, and I am talking about Joey “KO Kid” Spina (23-1-1, 16 KOs). You can be beating him for nine rounds but in the tenth round he will knock you out. I love a fighter who can punch.
Some in the fight game may not realize that you have guided several world class fighters into champions. I would like to get your quick thoughts on some of these champions, past and present, that you have guided to titles.
Vinny Paz (50-10, 30 KOs)
Well I think every decade or maybe every decade you are going to get a fighter like Vinny Paz. No matter what he is going to give you your money’s worth. Imagine a young man with a size six and a half or seven shoe fighting Roy Jones for a title. Not saying it like no we can’t fight him, it was more like when are we fighting him. He is an overachiever, to be a good champion, it’s like you are a freak, and you are making accomplishments that you are not supposed to.
“Sucra” Ray Oliveira (47-11-2. 22 KOs)
Ray at his best when he was mentally and physically ready, man he was such a delight. It was like watching a reindeer run in the woods that is what Ray Oliveira was. Throwing the punches that he threw and I just wish I could have kept him a little more focused from the outside world and God only knows what we could have had.
The only disappointment with Ray was probably a fight that I tried to make many, many times was between him and Micky Ward. And Ray never achieved because every time that I moved him up to a fight that was going to take him to a major six figure fight, something out of the ring would mess up his head and he would not fight to the best of his ability.
Gary “Tiger” Balletto (31-3-2, 26 KOs)
Well Gary is just like what I said, what a great young man. He is a great father, a great husband, and a great friend. I have seen Gary in the gym on a big bag and punch and rip it in half. As a 135 pound lightweight, to do that was amazing. The number one fight that he had towards the end and one very important fight is that it got harder and harder for him to make that weight. He would make it but he would get so dehydrated that it was unfair but “Tiger” Balletto was just, that is what television wants, a bunch of “Tiger” Ballettos.
Scott Pemberton (29-5-1, 24 KOs)
Well Scott was an unbelievable fighter. He was like a cat or a tiger because if you cornered him and hurt him and boy you better be careful because he will take your head off. The couple of fights that he had that were ESPN2 Fights of the Year with Omar Sheika and I think that if he had gotten by the first few more rounds with Jeff Lacy, and people don’t know that with the Jeff Lacy fight he had a bad right hand, an injury that occurred in training camp. I wanted to take him out of the fight and he would not come out of the fight but he was a big, big puncher You could knock him down but you have got to be careful when he gets up because its lights out.
Matt Remillard is destined tobecomea world champion. Matt Remillard has it all. He can punch, and he can box. He is a perfect specimen. You cannot get him out of the gym. No bad habits. He is ready. I think you will see a multi-weighted champion that will start off at the 128 pound world title. Then you will see him in two or three divisions after that.
Matt Godfrey (17-1, 10 KOs)
Matt Godfrey is a special, special young man. I just love this kid. Matt, I think you are going to see him as a cruiserweight world champion and then you are going to see him move up to the heavyweight division. I don’t think that is going to be much more than a year to fourteen months before you see him with his first world title around his waist.
Peter Manfredo Jr. (31-5, 16 KOs)
Peter is in a big fight on November 13th, everyone knows that. Bika is a tough character, everyone knows that. If you look at the Calzaghe fight, and you look at other fights that he had, and if you look at the fight he had with Jaidon Codrington, which I thought was probably the fight of the decade.
Peter is an interesting young man. Not only the training habits he has which are great, but he is a very intelligent fighter and you need that inside the ring.
You have to be able to think, not think too long but you have to be able to think. I think on the thirteenth you are going to see a special Peter Manfredo Jr. I think he is going to make everyone forget.
He will be much talked about on beating Bika on the thirteenth. He can box, he can punch. Some people out there that say that he does not have too much of a punching power. I have seen him in this training camp knock down two sparring partners. He is hungry. He realizes that this is his last big opportunity.
It has been well documented on how you treat each of your fighters like they are your own family. It has been said that you have an intuition that you always seem to do the right thing at just the right time. For example when one of your fighters needed financial assistance, you held a fundraiser for his behalf and assisted him throughout that tough time. Others when they are down and out you have sent heartfelt notes and would ask others for their support in their time of need. How do you have such a commitment to your fighters both inside and outside of the ring?
I think because I respect what they do in their profession. I respect the sacrifices that they make. I respect that they work as hard as any athlete in any sport if not harder. It takes time for them to make real money.
One of the other things is that most of my fighters have a care for me. There has been some disappointments with a few of my fighters. They may get upset or beat, but I don’t just throw them away. I still will give them another opportunity.
When I think that they have had it and I don’t think that they should be in the ring, I will tell them so because they need to make good decisions in their lives. Not only am I going to tell them that, but I will also help them to find a new job so they can have security for themselves and their families. That is just the way that I live my life.
With all of the positive aspects about yourself and CES, it should be a no brainer that any future amateur talent in boxing should sign with CES to advance their careers professionally. However in your words, what would the advantages be for a top amateur star to sign with CES boxing?
Well I think that they better know what love and tender care means and if that means something to them. I think any young fighter that has talent; they have to do their background check before they sign on the dotted line.
They have to really know because when you sign with a promoter, you work with a manager, its part of your life. Most of the times the fighter may make a mistake and then they see that they can’t get along, so they are put on the shelf. They end up in court. They end up where the fighter is not fighting.
I just think that I care about my fighters and they are going to get loving, tender care. I mean I am going to be the first one they hear from if they are doing something wrong. I am going to give them every support system that they have, whether it’s a publicist, whether it’s a photographer, whether its strength and conditioning coach, whether it’s Dr. Margles next to them at each fight.
I want to teach them to improve how they speak to the media, what it means about being on time and being punctual and everything else. All I can do is just show them the right way, and I have been fortunate enough to bring up three great children, and everyone who signs up with CES also becomes a member of our family, and I am going to give you the same love and care that I would my own children.
Now on November 13th, CES is co-promoting the “Tough and Tested” fight card at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI along with the Tournament of Contenders featuring “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo Jr. taking on Sakio Bika for the IBO super middleweight title in the main event, which will be televised nationally on the Versus Network. How has it been working along with Jeff Wald and the Tournament of Contenders promotion in putting together this event?
I think it has been amazing what Jeff Wald has done in a short amount of time in boxing. Some of the fighters have fought for world titles like Sergio Mora and won and Alfonso Gomez has had some great fights.
I think it has been great for boxing and I am not just saying that because of my great relationship with them, put that aside for a moment. The Tournament of Contenders series has been great for boxing. I think it shows another level of what a fighter goes through, what they have got to do because they are for real, they are real people.
From Jeff Wald, to Josie Lambert, Henry Holmes has been unbelieveable as their legal counsel. It has just been a delight. They are not just going to work with anyone. They are going to be careful on who they work with and it has been an honor.
This is my third fight that I am doing with them and there are going to be other things that we will be doing as well in the future. They know a lot about the movies and a lot about different aspects of things. They have got some great relationships with television and programming directors. It is a good mix and I am very happy with it.
Let us break down the Manfredo Jr. vs. Bika main event. You have the runner-up in the first season of “The Contender” against the winner of the third season. How do you see the fight playing out? Any predictions?
I think that the fight is a great fight. It could be the fight of the year if both fighters perform the way that they have to. I think that Peter is the technician. I think he realizes that Bika throws wide shots. He has got to go up the middle. He has got to get in and out. Bika has got a big punch and I think Peter’s strategy is that he has to break him down like a big, big tree. It is not like a thirty second fight. It is a twelve round world championship fight. I think Peter is going to out box him and he is not going to get tired. He is going to be in terrific, terrific shape and I think he is going to end up breaking him down and taking him apart later on in the fight.
The last time there was a world title fight in the city of Providence was when Vinny Paz sold out the old Providence Civic Center almost seventeen years ago. How big of a fight is this for Peter Manfredo Jr. being that he is fighting in his hometown for a world title?
I think that Peter is taking a lot of examples and Vinny Paz has been talking to Peter. He has been telling him what to expect. How he is going to feel. They are working very well together like two loving brothers, so I am very happy about that.
I think that Vinny is instilling in his head his, ‘don’t get frustrated, don’t get macho, and don’t get macho in there sometimes like I did in some of my fights. Use your head in there, use your talent,’ and he has been working really closely with Peter in there. He has been telling him, ‘Peter, you know what kind of opportunity it is to be fighting in your own hometown for a world title.’ I believe he gets it and its all good stuff.
You also have just as exciting of a co-feature attraction as the winner of the second season of “The Contender,” Grady Brewer will take on the runner-up from the third season, Cornelius “K9” Bundrage in an IBO light heavyweight title eliminator. What are your thoughts on this match-up?
In addition to those two fights with huge title implications, also on the card is season three runner-up Jaidon Codrington. Has an opponent been finalized for his bout as of this time?
Another kid that has just come off of hand surgery that has been out of action for the last seven months, but looks like a very special fighter, is Diego Periera.
Another young man that we just signed to a multi-year contract, and who one day I believe will be a future bantamweight champion of the world is Isander “Peachy” Beauchamp. He is a 115 pounder that is (5-0, 2 KOs). He just looks like the real thing. He keeps asking me with five fights when he is going to be fighting for a world title. That is just the type of guy this person is.
With these fights and with “The Contender” favorites and “Contender” winners and then this type of undercard is just going to make for a terrific night of boxing. To have it be shown on a great network that is showing that they really care about boxing like the Versus network It has all the ingredients of just a super-great night in the sport that we love.
Tickets, priced at $18.00, $23.00, $58.00, $79.00, $107.00 and $222.00, are on sale at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Box Office (401.331.6700) or through CES Boxing at 401.724.2253/2254 or www.cesboxing.com. Tickets will also be on sale through www.Ticketmaster.com, at all local Ticketmaster outlets by calling Ticketmaster direct at 401.331.2211 or 617.931.2000, as well as Manfredo’s Gym in Pawtucket (401.723.1359), 401 Gym in Cranston (401.261.9800), Balletto’s Gym in Providence (401.641.9994), Elite Mixed Martial Arts (401.728.1356), and Ultimate Fitness in Bristol (401.253.3539). Each paid ticket holder will receive a complimentary Dave & Buster’s $10.00 Power Card ($12 value) upon entry.
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