Rhode Island-based promoter Jimmy Burchfield opened up boxing in Connecticut this year with a mega Pro-Am card at Mohegan Sun Casino this past Saturday. An exciting night of matches ended with Chordale “The Gift” Booker outworking the tenacious Greg “The Villain” Vendetti over 10 rounds to win a unanimous decision to defend his WBC U.S. super welterweight title.
With many promoters in recent years electing not to hold fights in the Nutmeg State like they used to, Burchfield is pretty much the person responsible for keeping boxing alive in Connecticut, at the two Connecticut casinos, and in New England in general. He is the Energizer Bunny of combat sports promoters. In fact, he had the ingenuity some years back to also establish a mixed martial arts promotional company, and the Twin River Casino in Rhode Island is home base for his MMA events.
However, boxing has always been his first love and later this week one of his fighters will challenge one of boxing’s top stars for a world title. Burchfield couldn’t be more excited. Asked on Saturday what motivates him year after year, he responded, “What’s going to happen this Thursday, with Jamaine Ortiz winning the world championship, that’s what drives me.”
He added, “Getting a fighter, turning him pro, putting every effort into it to bring him up the mountain, that’s my motivation.”
Ortiz challenges Teofimo Lopez for the WBO junior welterweight title this Thursday at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. Burchfield has had many fighters under the CES banner over the years. He promoted Vinny Pazienza for years but following Pazienza’s major title reigns. He promoted Chad Dawson early on and thought “Bad” Chad would be his future world champion. However, Dawson subsequently jumped ship for promoter Gary Shaw en route to his winning the light heavyweight title.
Burchfield has promoted fighters he thought had all the talent in the world to achieve their world title dreams under CES Boxing banner. However, even Burchfield’s best guys fell a little short, including super middleweight Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton, Peter Manfredo Jr., cruiserweight Matt Godfrey, 2004 Olympian Jason ‘Big Six” Estrada and former NABF featherweight champion Matt Remillard. And so Burchfield soldiers on.
He has gotten his fighters title shots in the past, but the shiny hardware with the words “world champion” emblazoned across the center piece of the belt has eluded them.
Burchfield has been known to say at times, “I can get you the opportunity, but I can’t get in the ring for you.”
With Ortiz, a New Englander like Burchfiel himself, he has a boxer that has remained loyal and can compete with anyone out there, and Ortiz has a good shot at pulling off the upset.
Two fights back, he gave a great showing against one of the best – Vasyl Lomachenko – but lost a unanimous 12-round decision. He did so well, Lomachenko – who was one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best – had to rally in the final rounds of the contest to pull out the victory.
“Jamaine has it all,” said Burchfield. “He is corporate America. Don’t have to worry about him drinking, dealing in drugs or any other bad habits. He speaks well, he’s bilingual.”
He added, “He represents the United States of America, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the entire planet. This is what boxing needs, a movie star that can really fight.”
Burchfield also pointed out that Ortiz is a fighter “the youth can look up to.”
“He is a very religious person,” said Burchfield. “In fact, we have a big edge because God will be working his corner. “
With Ortiz only days away from challenging for a world title – and having already proven he can compete with the best – Burchfield is confident his fighter will return to Worcester, Massachusetts with the “W” and the WBO junior welterweight championship around his waist.
“This means everything in the world to me,” he said.
Burchfield added, “Our fighters become family. Period. And we have just started.”