Classic Entertainment & Sports CEO Jimmy Burchfield Sr. Last month, our loyal fans witnessed one of the most exciting fights of this year, or any year, at Twin River Casino when our junior middleweight prospect Khiary Gray rallied with his back against the wall to knock out the dangerous Chris Chatman in the seventh round of their scheduled eight-round main event bout.
That would’ve been the perfect exclamation point on a tremendous season of boxing at Twin River, and it was initially billed as our final show of the year, but we felt it’d be a disservice to you, our fans, if we didn’t take the stage for one last encore in December to kick off the holiday season in style and officially end the year with a bang.
With that said, we’re just 48 hours away from our year-end event, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 2nd at our home base at the Twin River Event Center, and this will no doubt be a memorable night as we welcome old champions back to the Ocean State while continuing to showcase New England’s many rising stars.
It’s a holiday party featuring music, fun and all the appropriate festivities in addition to a secret special guest who’ll be on hand to help us spread the holiday cheer. If you’re wondering who that is, you’ll just have to wait until Friday night!
More importantly, it’s another great night of fights, presented in association with the U.S. Marine Toys For Tots program. As we always do, we’ll have drop-off boxes on display in the lobby at Twin River, so we ask you to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to those less fortunate than us. Every donation helps and we truly want to make this a special, unforgettable holiday for everyone.
This is also going to be “Carlos Garcia Night” as we honor the legendary trainer from Worcester, Mass., who will be inducted into the National Golden Gloves Hall of Fame. Carlos has coached boxing for 34 years and in that time he’s led two fighters to a National Golden Gloves Championship while guiding the careers of many young up-and-coming fighters from Worcester, including our own Jamaine Ortiz, Kendrick Ball Jr. and Gray, all three of whom dazzled in 2016 with highlight-reel victories.
The Worcester fighters who will be on display Friday night are only part of the story. This is also the homecoming of two great Providence fighters who return to Rhode Island for the first time in several years, super featherweight sensation Toka Kahn and female bantamweight Shelito Vincent, a pioneer for women’s boxing who fought on national television in August, a landmark bout for the sport. They boast 37 combined wins against only two losses, unparalleled success in any market or generation, and on Friday they help us close out the year in separate eight-round bouts against worthy foes, a true holiday treat for their loyal fans.
We’re also excited to bring back Ball Jr., a young, humble up-and-coming middleweight prospect from Worcester who is stepping up to face his toughest test to date against the undefeated Nathan Millier of Canada, a hard-hitting prospect with seven knockout wins in 10 pro fights. This has Fight of the Night written all over it and it’s a major test for both fighters as they step to the plate looking to steal the show on this stacked fight card. This is Ball’s sixth fight of the year since turning pro in May, a lesson to all fighters to stay in the gym and stay ready, because the opportunities will come.
Not to be outdone, Ray Oliveira Jr. of New Bedford, Mass., the son of the legendary “Sucra” Ray Oliveira, returns to face another tough test against Maine’s Matt Probin, a tremendous adversary who is dying to make his mark in New England after scoring a big win on the road earlier this year in Pennsylvania. Oliveira Jr. will fight anyone at any given time and continues to answer the call when pressed into action. This will be another epic fight for both sides!
Providence’s own Anthony Marsella Jr., fresh off a big knockout win last month in his Rhode Island debut, returns Friday for his third pro fight along with Worcester’s Cristobal Marrero, another young, 2-0 fighter aiming for his third win of the year. These are two names to keep an eye. We have big plans for both in 2017 and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to the familiar faces, we’re proud to introduce two new fighters to our fan base, exciting junior welterweight Khiry Todd from Lynn, Mass., and fellow junior welterweight Anthony Laureano from East Hartford, Conn., who already has one win on his record. It’s the best of both worlds. We’re bringing back two longtime veteran fan-favorites, our young up-and-comers who’ve dominated the headlines in 2016 and new faces who will most certainly make their mark and build their foundation beginning in 2017.
Watching these soon-to-be fan-favorites and veteran stars is like opening a present on Christmas morning. Every fight for a young, up-and-comer is unpredictable and every fighter has a puncher’s chance, which is why the sport of boxing remains must-see theater for any and all sports fans. It’s our pleasure to bring you one more event in 2016. It’s our gift to you. Now we ask you to give generously. Come out and support your local fighters and be sure to bring an unwrapped toy for Toys For Tots.
Enjoy our wonderful year-end party before the holiday season kicks into high gear and make sure you stay on the lookout for our special guest who will be landing on the rooftop at Twin River sometime during the night! We appreciate all of you. We would not be able to do this without you. Thank you for an amazing, unforgettable 2016 season.