CES photo by Kelly MacDonald — PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 12th, 2013) — They keep challenging him, and all he continues to do is win.
Since returning to professional boxing in 2010 following a seven-year layoff, super middleweight Joe Gardner (10-5-1, 1 KO) has made quite a living outsmarting and outboxing some of the region’s top fighters, yet the Woonsocket, R.I., native continues to be one of the most sought-after targets by would-be opponents hoping to score a knockout against the seasoned veteran.
“They all try to knock me out, and it doesn’t work,” Gardner said, “but I’ll take it if they want to keep coming at me.”
Enter fellow Woonsocket native Reynaldo Rodriguez (6-5-1, 3 KOs), who has answered the challenge and will look to play the spoiler role against his former training partner Friday, March 15th, 2013 when he and Gardner square off in a special six-round super middleweight bout on the undercard of “Unfinished Business,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I.
Gardner and Rodriguez have shared more than gym space; they’ve also faced some of the same opponents, most notably Warwick, R.I., native Keith Kozlin, who has a draw and a win against Rodriguez and a loss against Gardner. Likewise, Gardner has also faced New England foes Vladine Biosse, Elvin Ayala and Brian Barbosa and recently handed Providence’s Alex Amparo his first career loss in a unanimous-decision win in November.
Despite his relative familiarity with Rodriguez, Gardner is expecting the unexpected Friday night, especially now that Rodriguez no longer trains at the Woonsocket Boxing Club.
“The last few times I’ve seen him, he’s always looked different,” Gardner said of Rodriguez. “The first time he fought Keith [in the draw] he looked great, but then during the camp before the second fight he kept talking about how he was going to knock him out and how he felt stronger than ever, and he ended up fighting the wrong fight.
“I hope he brings that fight [Friday], but I doubt it.”
The 35-year-old Rodriguez hasn’t won since he knocked out Richard Starnino in 2011 and was thoroughly outclassed by Kozlin in July, losing every round on two of the three scorecards, but the familiarity between he and Gardner – in addition to their past relationship – makes this one of the most intriguing of the regional showdowns slated for Friday’s undercard at Twin River.
“You’ve got to think in his mind he knows the fight he fought against Keith was totally wrong,” Gardner said. “When he’s in tip-top shape, he’s a sturdy guy.”
Regardless of what Rodriguez does, Gardner’s game plan will be the same as always – box on the outside, pick his shots, and frustrate his opponent into making mistakes. It’s a cerebral approach that has worked well for Gardner in recent years.
“I think more than the other guys do. That’s been my biggest advantage in the last year or two,” Gardner said. “They come out balls to the wall in every fight looking for that one knockout punch. That might work for world-class guys, but not for guys on my level. If I see you a few times, I can usually pick you apart. My game is boxing on the outside. I just hope I can work my pace over the course of six rounds.”
Peter Manfredo Jr. (38-7, 20 KOs) will face Seattle, Wash., native Walter Wright (14-3, 7 KOs) in the 10-round super middleweight main event of “Unfinished Business.”
Tickets for “Unfinished Business” are $40.00, $60.00, $100.00 and $150.00 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.shop.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.
Also on the undercard, Boston middleweight Julio Garcia (6-3, 3 KOs) – trained by former heavyweight world champion John Ruiz – will face Thomas Falowo (8-1, 6 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., in a six-round bout while light heavyweight Kevin Cobbs (6-1, 2 KOs) of Burlington, Vt., who is looking to bounce back from his first career loss in November, will face hard-htting Paul Gonsalves (4-2, 3 KOs) of Harwich, Mass., in a four-round bout.
Warwick, R.I., super middleweight Benny Costantino (7-2, 4 KOs) is also back in action and looking to bounce back from his loss in July as he faces Quincy, Mass., veteran Emmanuel Medina (2-3-1, 2 KOs), who appeared in a nationally-televised bout on ESPN2 in January. Unbeaten, 19-year-old Polish welterweight Patryk Szymanski (5-0, 2 KOs), fighting out of North Bergen, N.J., will make a special appearance in a six-round bout against Antonio Chaves Fernandes (2-8-1) of Brockton, Mass. Jesse Barboza (5-1-1, 3 KOs), a Barnstable, Mass., heavyweight, will return to Twin River for the first time since 2010 when he faces Jeramiah Witherspoon (2-2-1, 1 KO) of Altoona, Pa., in a four-round bout, while female bantamweight Noemi Bosques (1-0), a St. Petersburg, Fla., native who now trains in Providence, will face Queens native Vanessa Greco (1-2-1) in a four-round bout. All bouts are subject to change.
(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Unfinished Business.” Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)