The summer of 2017 has been a wild, tumultuous ride for Jimmy Williams with one more unexpected stop on the road to stardom.
Less than three weeks after defeating Issouf Kinda in the first defense of his World Boxing Council U.S. National Boxing Council (WBC USNBC) welterweight title, the reigning 147-pound champion from New Haven, Conn., returns to the ring Saturday, Sept. 16th, 2017to defend the strap against Union City, N.J., vet Juan Rodriguez Jr. (13-4, 5 KOs) at Twin River Casino, a surprise addition to a stacked, 12-fight lineup presented by CES Boxing.
Rodriguez’s original opponent, Khiary Gray of Worcester, Mass., sustained an injury during training camp, so now the “The Beast” gets his crack at the prestigious WBC U.S. championship in a 10-round welterweight showcase against the unbeaten Williams (14-0-1, 6 KOs), who has won 10 consecutive bouts dating back to 2013.
The entire 12-fight card airs live on Facebook via FIGHTNIGHT LIVE. CES Boxing debuted on the fan-friendly streaming platform Aug. 26th in Connecticut and set a Facebook record with 201,935 views, more than tripling the previous high of 63,000.
Tickets are priced at $47.00, $102.00, $127.00 (VIP) 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.
Next weekend’s event also includes a unique opportunity for fight fans to enjoy the highly-anticipated Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez Pay Per View showdown, also scheduled for Sept. 16th in Nevada.
The official Sept. 16th Williams-Rodriguez After Party will be held at Murphy’s Law in Pawtucket, R.I., and CES Boxing is offering an exclusive $55.00 ticket that includes general admission to the live Twin River event, plus admission to the after party for the PPV showing of GGG-Canelo, in addition to a complimentary deluxe buffet and door prizes.
Combo tickets are available through CES Boxing and Murphy’s Law, located at 2 George Street in Pawtucket. Tickets for the after party only are available for $20.00 in advance and $30.00 the night of the event.
The resilient Williams has been a hot commodity in and out of the ring this year; his April 7th win over Nick DeLomba for the then vacant WBC title earned him overnight acclaim and a spot among the top welterweights in the North American Boxing Federation (NABF), where he’s currently ranked 13th. With his first title defense under his belt, courtesy of a fourth-round knockout win over Kinda last month, Williams is right back at it in less than two weeks, all while his wife, Christina, prepares to give birth to twin boys.
A full-time truancy officer in West Haven, the 30-year-old Williams has never had to look far for motivation; his entire career has been dedicated to the memory of his mother, Belinda, who was murdered while Williams was in college, a case that remains unsolved to this day.
Last month, Williams fought in honor of a Brandford, Conn., youth who drowned in a river. Two weeks from now, he continues his quest for a welterweight world championship with his soon-to-be-expanded family as the driving force behind every battle between the ropes.
For Rodriguez, the short-notice change is the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to dethrone one of the region’s top 147-pounders and earn a spot in the NABF rankings, an important step in the development of any would-be title challenger.
Following three consecutive losses, including one to DeLomba at Twin River in 2015, Rodriguez is back on the radar thanks to a split-decision win over 20-fight Alex Perez in August of 2016.
Williams-Rodriguez is only the tip of the iceberg on what figures to be the most exciting fight card of 2017. Next weekend’s event also features a six-round junior middleweight battle between New Bedford, Mass., vet Ray Oliveira Jr. (7-1, 1 KO) and Meriden, Conn., native David Wilson (5-1-1, 1 KO), plus the highly-anticipated return of Carini, Sicily heavyweight Juiseppe Angelo Cusumano (12-1, 10 KOs), who faces Oceanside, Calif., vet Matt McKinney (5-2-2, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout.
Cusumano continued his east coast reign of terror Aug. 26th with a first-round knockout win over Robert Dunton, his second win in two months since ending an eight-month layoff in June. Wilson-Oliveira, a fight nearly two years in the making, finally arrives Sept. 16th with both fighters looking to rebound from their first career losses.
Unbeaten Worcester, Mass., middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr. (7-0-2, 5 KOs) returns for the 10th time in just 16 months on Sept. 16th when he battles Durham, N.C., vet Pablo Velez Jr. (7-1-1, 5 KOs) in a six-round bout. Ball Jr.’s last four opponents boast a combined record of 16-1-3, including previously unbeaten Godson Noel, whom Ball Jr. defeated in June.
The Sept. 16th undercard also includes several intrastate rivalries and regional showdowns, among them a four-round featherweight bout between Jonathan Perez (2-1-2, 2 KOs) of Lawrence, Mass., and unbeaten Providence native Ricky Delossantos (2-0), plus a potential four-round showstopper in the welterweight division between Stoughton, Mass., native Travis Demko (4-1, 1 KO) and fellow Massachusetts native Marqus Bates (2-1, 2 KOs) of Taunton.
Super featherweight Michael Valentin (1-0, 1 KO) of Providence, who debuted with a sensational first-round knockout win in June, returns to face newcomer Henry Garcia of New Bedford in a four-round bout and Providence featherweight Phil Dudley (1-0) locks horns with Worcester’s Philip Davis (0-1), also in a four-round bout. In the cruiserweight division, Worcester’s Jake Paradise makes his professional debut against fellow newcomer Rafiel Nyakoko, also of Worcester, in a four-round showcase bout.
Also on the undercard, Groton, Conn., bantamweight Marcia Agripino (1-0-1) ends a four-year layoff she faces New York vet Federica Bianco (2-1, 1 KO), a full time astrophysicist and research scientist at New York University. Agripino last fought in Rhode Island in 2013, defeating Vanessa Greco in her pro debut.
Next weekend’s undercard also features the return of two undefeated lightweight prospects, Providence’s Anthony Marsella Jr. (5-0, 2 KOs) and Worcester’s Jamaine Ortiz (5-0, 3 KOs), in separate bouts. Marsella Jr. faced his toughest test to date in June, picking himself up off the canvas in the fifth round against Texan Abraham Torres before coasting to a unanimous decision win, his fourth in a row at Twin River. Ortiz, a contender in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Nevada in 2016, returns fresh off a unanimous decision win over Angel Figueroa on Aug. 26th.