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“The Pride of Providence ” Speaks!

October 22, 2008

By: Scott Ploof
Photography by Emily Harney
- FightWireImages.com


At just 27 years of age, “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo Jr. (30-5, 15 KOs ) has accomplished almost everything he has set his eyes on during his almost nine year career.

He has starred, competed, and was the runner-up in the original season of the popular hit television reality series, “The Contender.” He fought overseas and challenged for the WBO super middleweight title coming up just short against undefeated kingpin Joe Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KOs). At the end of 2007, he had a disappointing decision loss to super middleweight contender, Jeff Lacy (24-1, 17 KOs ) in a co-feature bout that was televised around the world on pay-per-view. Even after all these experiences and accomplishments still one thing is missing from his resume, a world title.

On November 13th in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, he will get not only the biggest but possibly his last shot at a world title when he takes on “The Contender” season three winner and 2000 Olympian, Sakio Bika (26-3-2, 16 KOs) for the IBO super middleweight title.

They will both main event the “Tough and Tested” fight card that is being co-promoted by Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) and the Tournament of Contenders live from the Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence and televised nationally on the Versus network.

This past Friday, a press conference was held right in the heart of Providence at the Dave and Buster’s Restaurant inside of the historic Providence Place Mall for a question and answer session with “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo Jr. along with his co-promoter, CES president, Jimmy Burchfield.

Mr. Burchfield began the press conference welcoming everyone by saying, “This event was supposed to be in Australia . Then it was supposed to go to Las Vegas . This is an event that could have ended up at Madison Square Garden in New York City .”

“We lobbied and lobbied with the Tournament of Contenders, who are our partners in this promotion, we lobbied with everything we had because we wanted to bring it to Providence . Now that we brought this fight here to Providence , now is the time that we need everyone in this area to help out to make this event happen,” said Burchfield.
He continued by saying, “I have raised over two million dollars for charities in my career and right now the charity that I am currently supporting is the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. Anthony Gemma and his team are working together with us in this event as they will be selling pink t-shirts to raise money for the foundation.”

“In addition, when Peter enters the ring we are going to have pink glow sticks with his name on them, as he willmake a Las Vegas style entrance to the ring that night,” Burchfield explained.
Jimmy Burchfield then introduced Anthony Gemma, who is president of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. He spoke briefly to the media by saying, “Thank you very much Jimmy and thank you all for having me here today to speak on behalf of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.”

“It is absolutely an honor to be here and to be able to do this again. I think we have higher expectations of the crowd here and what we are going to do to the ring, I think will make this a memorable event and a tremendous ring entrance for you Peter, so we are very excited to be a part of that, said Gemma.”

Gemma concluded by saying that, “The breast cancer survivors are fighting and what you are doing in the ring is fighting is really synonymous. These people are fighting every day of their lives with all that they have and on November 13th you will be fighting with everything that you have. This will be a tremendous event and we are very glad to be a part of it.”

CES president Jimmy Burchfield then continued talking about his charge as he said, “Peter, Peter Sr., and I started this journey about eight years ago, and Peter has never lost a fight in Providence ever and he will never lose a fight in Providence . To get an opportunity to fight for a world championship in his hometown of Providence , Rhode Island is just fantastic and we are really looking forward to this night and this chance.”

“Now let’s talk about the new Dunkin Donuts Center . You don’t go to a world championship fight and not have a $500 or $300 ticket in today’s economy but we want to give something back to this community. We made the tickets from $18 and up and that is a tribute to the Dunkin Donuts Center so that it is affordable to everyone. Tickets are currently on sale now,” Burchfield explained. “The card itself is a combination of everything that is great in the sport of boxing.”

“As many of you here know I have been doing this for a long time, and to keep this fire burning of boxing in this area hasn’t been easy. There have been mountains to climb and you get knocked down the mountains at times but I have never given up, and this is one of the things that we started eight years ago when we had Peter at (21-0),” said Burchfield.

Jimmy Burchfield continued by saying, “Peter is a special young man. He is a great father. He is a great husband. He is a great friend. There is nothing that I ever had to worry about with Peter, such as getting in trouble with the law, or with drugs, or in a bar room, or being involved with any of that nonsense.” “ Rhode Island , this guy belongs being your world champion. He really belongs being your world champion, and he is going to fight his heart out,” proclaimed Burchfield. “Our opponent wanted this fight to be in Australia , and wanted it badly to be in Australia , but this is the man that can fill up arenas right here,” stated Burchfield. “ Las Vegas is fine, Madison Square Garden is fine, but we wanted to do the fight right here in Providence . Without the fans we could not make this possible.” “The last time there was a world championship fight in Providence Vinny Paz put 15,185 people into the old Providence Civic Center . It was completely sold out with another thousand people standing outside the door trying to get in to watch the fight. That is what we want to do on November 13th. This is a major, major league show,” said Burchfield.

He continued by saying that, “my partners in this promotion, the Tournament of Contenders, in their third year held “The Contender” finale nearby at the TD BankNorth Garden in Boston , MA . The fighters that fought that night were involved in some of the best fights that I have seen in the last decade.”

One of them ended up of course as “The Contender: Season Three” champion who happens to be Peter’s opponent for the world title on November 13th Sakio Bika. “Bika and Jaidon Codrington fought in one of the most exciting fights that I have seen in the last ten years. Codrington (18-2, 14 KOs ) is also on the undercard on November 13th but I want all of you who haven’t seen this fight (Bika vs. Codrington), to see this fight. This is a real fight and Peter is taking this fight very seriously,” Burchfield said.

He then introduced the interim NABF super middleweight title holder, Peter Manfredo Jr. He started off by saying, “I want to thank everyone for coming here today first of all and to Anthony Gemma, the Dunkin Donuts Center, the Tournament of Contenders, Jimmy Burchfield, and the Versus network for televising this fight to a nationwide audience.”

“You know this is it. You know I had a terrible year last year. I had two big shots and I disappointed not only myself but the city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island . It embarrassed me and I had to sit down and really decide what to do with the rest of my life, you know either be an electrician and work forty hours a week and barely get by with three kids, or become a world championship fighter,” said Manfredo Jr.

He continued by saying, “I sat down with my father and we talked it out a little bit. We didn’t throw any punches at each other because he is a street guy, I could take him in the ring but I don’t know about the street, I think he could take me, but we sat down and we worked it out,” Manfredo Jr. said jokingly. Manfredo Jr.’s tone then turned serious again when he said, “I told him that this is it. This is going to be my last run. I am going to take this very seriously. I know what I want now with my life, so far we are (3-0, 3 KOs ), and now we got this opportunity.”

“We had to work very hard to get this opportunity and we are back here and we got it in Providence so this is definitely a fair shot. It is not like the Calzaghe fight where I don’t think I would have won anyway,” said Manfredo Jr.

He continued by saying, “But this is a fair opportunity at a world title and the last champion to do it here was Vinny Paz and he did it. That definitely inspires me and I want to bring not only myself, but I want to bring the entire state of Rhode Island a new world champion. I think that I can accomplish that on November 13th. I am very hungry. Thank you all for coming here today and I will see you all at the fight.”

The press conference was then opened up to questions and answers from both Peter Manfredo Jr. and CES president Jimmy Burchfield.

When asked about his opponent on November 13th, Manfredo Jr. noted that, “This is going to be a tough fight. This guy is very strong. He keeps coming forward. He can take a punch, and has got the will of a champion.” He however continued by saying, “but I just think that I have what it takes right now, I have got it all. I have got the speed over him. I have just as much power as he does. My punches are a lot shorter and I think that I can beat him at every aspect of the game. If I want to box him that night, I can beat him boxing. If I want to slug it out that, I feel that I have the faster hands to slug it out with him and then get out of the way. I am very confident going into this fight and I will come out victorious that night.”

A member of the media in attendance asked CES president, Jimmy Burchfield just how big was it to land this fight in Providence . Mr. Burchfield responded by saying, “It was very big, I mean listen, no one wants to fight Peter here in Providence , no one but that is part of what we are supposed to get done.”

“The other fight will feature Grady Brewer against Cornelius “K9” Bundrage in an IBO title eliminator and that will be another major league fight. The rest of the undercard will feature the most popular and up and coming fighters in the New England area. So this will be an exciting night of action that fight fans should not miss for one second.”

FightNews then asked Peter Manfredo Jr. if he felt that this was a definitive crossroads fight for him. He responded by saying, “I think this is it right here man. I think this is make it or break it for me right here. I mean if I do not win this fight, I would think my career would be over from there. It is kind of hard to rebuild again, this is my third shot. You know three strikes and you’re out.” Manfredo Jr. continued by saying, “So I am definitely taking this fight really serious, and this is no joke for me. This is a big fight and that is why I am exhausted right now, because I have been training so hard. I cannot wait for the weekend so I can get my strength back to start all over again on Monday. I am very excited about this fight and I am looking really good right now like I have been for the past year. I feel real strong and I am mentally there when I wasn’t last year.”

Peter Manfredo Jr. is currently 27 years old and will be 28 next month. When asked about that he said to the media that, “it will be a nice birthday present when I win.”

When asked how important it was to him to be fighting at home, Manfredo Jr. said, “Well the difference being here is that I get to go home after the gym at night. I get to see my wife. I get to see my kids. I am comfortable in my own bed. I am comfortable around my family and friends. I get to go to my grandmother’s house and eat, which is always nice and healthy. You just get to be comfortable here when you have your friends and family come to the arena and cheer for you. You do not have to travel anywhere so that you are not wearing your body out. It’s a great opportunity. Vinny Paz won two world titles here and a big reason for it is being comfortable in your surroundings.”

“The Pride of Providence” concluded by saying, “It is definitely a plus for me but at the end of the day it is still me and him in that ring. He is going to try to come in there and try to take my head off, but I am the crazy one that will take his head off first.”

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.

For more information call 401.724.2253/2254 or go online to www.cesboxing.com, www.tournamentofcontenders.com or www.dunkindonutscenter.com. Doors open at 5:30 PM/ET, first bout 6:30 PM/ET.

For more information on the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, go online to www.gloriagemma.org.


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