Three months after suffering his first career loss on national television, Worcester, Mass., junior middleweight Khiary Gray returns to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs hoping to add another memorable moment to the demo reel.
Gray (13-1, 10 KOs) defends his Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) Northeast and International Titles Friday, Oct. 21st, 2016 at Twin River Casino against self-proclaimed “bad guy” Chris Chatman (14-5-1, 5 KOs), who makes his eighth Rhode Island appearance.
“I feel real good about my upcoming victory against Gray,” Chatman said matter-of-factly. “I’m not sleeping on his abilities as a fighter, but I’m real confident in my training.
“He looks good, but anyone can look good against the level of competition he’s opposing. I’m sure after he fights me, he’ll come out better and ready to win.”
“I know he said he’s bringing the pain. I respect him and what he does, but this is a fight I knew was coming and I’m ready to get back to doing what I do and get back into the winners’ circle,” Gray countered.
“I’m coming to redeem myself. The last fight was a fluke.”
The eight-round main event headlines a stacked nine-fight card that also features an all-New England six-round co-feature between unbeaten junior middleweights Ray Oliveira Jr. (5-0, 1 KO) of New Bedford, Mass., and Gerald Schifone (3-0-1, 1 KO) of Brockton, Mass., plus a four-round regional showdown between Providence featherweight Cido Hoff (1-0-1) and unbeaten Worcester slugger Irvin Gonzalez Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs).
Tickets for the Oct. 21st Chatman-Gray title bout are priced at $47.00, $67.00, $102.00 and $152.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
The Chatman-Gray showdown comes just three months after Gray suffered a second-round knockout loss to Ian Green in the opening bout of ShoBox: The New Generation’s 15th Anniversary telecast. That bout occurred just one week after Chatman notched what might’ve been his impressive win, defeating Rhode Island’s Thomas Falowo for the second time in three years at Twin River.
The 32-year-old Chatman, a Chicago native who spent the last three and a half years fighting out of New Jersey before moving back to the Windy City this summer, has carved a niche in Rhode Island as the spoiler often matched opposite the hometown favorite.
Chatman is 5-2 at Twin River, which includes two wins over Falowo, a 2014 victory against Grady Brewer, and a win last summer against Providence’s Vladine Biosse. His resume also includes bouts against former World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, a Providence native and 2008 U.S. Olympian, and current World Boxing Council (WBC) 154-pound title-holder Jermell Charlo.
He’s also expertly cast himself as the villain; drawing both the ire and the undeniable respect of New England fans with his colorful quotes and all-action fight style. On Oct. 21st, he faces another tall task against the 23-year-old Gray, who won eight consecutive bouts by knockout — seven in the first round — during a torrid, 11-month stretch in 2015.
“I know the fans don’t like me much,” Chatman said, “but I appreciate their boos all the same as cheers. The ‘bad guy’ is a role I play. It’s what sells tickets. And the ‘bad guy,’ a.k.a ‘the monster under the bed,’ is coming to beat another New England fighter. This is Khiary’s last chapter as champ!”
Gray captured the first of his two UBF titles in September of 2015 when he dismantled Texas’ Kenton Sippio-Cook at the 2-minute, 2-second mark of the opening round of their scheduled six-round bout, and added the International Title to the trophy case with a grueling, 10-round unanimous decision win over Ecuador native Eduardo Flores three months later.
Gray’s quick rise to prominence — 13 bouts in less than two years, all victories — earned him a spot on ShoBox: The New Generation, the premier network destination for boxing’s top up-and-coming prospects. With no shortcuts on the road back to the top, Gray jumps right back into the fire Oct. 21st against the hard-hitting, durable Chatman, who’s only been stopped twice in 20 career bouts, once to Charlo, who is now 28-0, and again to Ukrainian star Ievgen Kyytrov, who’s stopped 12 of his 14 opponents.
The undercard also features the Rhode Island debut of amateur standout Anthony Marsella Jr. (1-0) of Providence, who faces Philadelphia’s Bardraiel Smith (0-1) in a four-round junior welterweight bout, plus the return of Worcester middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr. (3-0-1, 3 KOs), who steps back into the ring five weeks following his most win to face Medford, Ore., vet Rafael Valencia (3-4-1, 2 KOs), also a four-round fight.
New London, Conn., junior welterweight Cristobal Marrero (1-0, 1 KO) takes on Woburn, Mass., vet Bruno Dias (0-1); Jonathan Figueroa (1-0, 1 KO) of Hartford, Conn., faces Florida’s Irvin Veloz in a four-round junior welterweight bout and Hartford super middleweight Jose Rivera (1-0, 1 KO) also makes his Ocean State debut against Worcester’s Ben Peak. Worcester lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (2-0, 2 KOs) will be featured in a separate four-round bout.