PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Sept. 8th, 2014) — No one needs to explain the significance of this fight to Joey McCreedy.
Shortly after he hit the canvas three times in a loss to Sean Monaghan in April, McCreedy knew his next fight would more than likely be the biggest of his career.
“This is do or die for,” said the Lowell, Mass., native, who’ll face Rich Gingras on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 at Twin River Casino. “I’m almost 30 now.
“In boxing, when you get to seven, eight, sometimes nine losses, you start becoming an opponent. I’m not letting my body go through that, being a punching bag just taking fights for money and getting embarrassed. I’m training real hard for this fight. I want to get back on track to where I was before.”
Long before he stepped in the ring with the undefeated Monaghan in Las Vegas, long before Gingras (14-4-1, 9 KOs) made Rhode Island his home turf, McCreedy (15-7-2, 6 KOs) was a fan-favorite and perennial headliner at Twin River.
Lauded for his take-no-prisoners approach in the ring, a style that kept fans coming back each time, McCreedy fought 11 consecutive bouts at Twin River between 2008 and 2010, winning five times with two draws. The last one, a lopsided loss to Providence’s Vladine Biosse in 2010 on the undercard of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, marked the unceremonious end of McCreedy’s run in the Ocean State.
Shortly thereafter, he wound up with a different promoter, no longer under the guidance of CES Boxing, and fought everywhere from Nova Scotia to Burbank, Ill. His return to Rhode Island on Friday is about more than just trying to capture Gingras’ N.E. Light Heavyweight Title while defending his own Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) Northeast belt, a unique headliner on a card appropriately named “Title For Title.”
In fact, McCreedy has gone as far as to say Gingras’ title “doesn’t mean anything,” because even if he wins he’ll vacate the belt and move back down to 168 pounds, where he feels more comfortable against opponents his size.
“I can’t fight at 175, not at the level where I want to be,” he said. “I realized that when I fought in Vegas.”
What McCreedy really wants is to reclaim his turf and rekindle the magic from his prime when he was as popular at Twin River as almost any fighter born in Rhode Island.
“That’s my second home. I fought there long before Rich did,” McCreedy said. “I had a great run there until things went sour. I’m glad to be back, I’m glad to be bringing my fans back and I’m glad to be working with [CES president Jimmy Burchfield] again. Not a lot of people are willing to give you a second chance in this sport.”
Now it’s up to McCreedy to make the most of this opportunity, and he knows it’ll take more than an arena packed with rabid fans to get him past the tough, hard-hitting Gingras. Born in New Hampshire, but now living and training out of Lincoln, R.I., Gingras has emerged as Twin River’s No. 1 headliner since Peter Manfredo Jr. retired. He’s also the reigning N.E. Light Heavyweight champion after knocking out Jaime Velazquez for the vacant title in June.
In addition to the two titles on the line, Friday’s eight-round main event is also a battle between the old and the new in terms of Rhode Island boxing royalty, though it’s worth noting McCreedy is still only 29 while Gingras turned 33 in March.
“Fighting Rich is like looking in a mirror,” McCreedy said. “He fights just like me. This will be the Fight of the Year. He’s a great fighter. He’s been through a lot of ups and downs, too.
“I have a lot of respect for [his trainers] Orlondo [Valles] and Jose [Santos]. Jose is a good friend of mine. He cornered me in Vegas. I love his whole team, but everyone knows when you step through those ropes it’s a whole different ballgame. At that point, he doesn’t like me and I don’t like him.”
The experience in Las Vegas, which featured the ironic twist of one of Gingras’ trainers, Santos, working McCreedy’s corner, is one McCreedy wouldn’t change for anything despite the loss.
“I gave it all I had, but [Monaghan] was just the better man that night,” he said. “He was more experienced, taller. Being in that atmosphere, maybe I got a little star-struck. I knew what kind of pressure I was under and what would happen had I won. It was a lot of pressure to take on, but it was awesome. I met a lot of great people.
“It was a special thing for me to fight in the same ring where legends fought. [Mike] Tyson fought there, [my trainer] Micky [Ward] fought there. [Sugar Ray] Leonard. Everyone fought there. Just to be in the same ring as Floyd [Mayweather] was a great experience.”
The pressure he faced that night boxing on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley rematch in what is now the fight capital of the world should help ease his mind when he steps back into the spotlight Friday.
“I won’t be bothered by it at all,” he said. “No pressure. I’ve been in the ring plenty of times. I just have to work hard. Hopefully, I come out victorious.
“I’m sure Rich is doing the same thing. We both have something to prove.”
Tickets for “Title For Title” are on sale now at $45.00, $60.00, $76.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Worcester, Mass., junior middleweight Khiary Gray-Pitts (1-0, 1 KO) faces Sergio Cabrera (0-2) of Boston: junior middleweight Ray Oliveira Jr. of Fall River, Mass., battles fellow newcomer Angel Valdez in his pro debut and Fall River lightweight Scott Sullivan takes on Moises Rivera (0-3) of Boston in his debut. Italian-American cruiserweight Antonio Mignella (3-0, 3 KOs) of Providence, nicknamed “Little Rocky,” will battle Louisana’s Alvin Varmall Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) in a four-round bout.
Shelito Vincent (12-0, 1 KO) of New London, Conn., will return in a six-round bout, and Cranston welterweight Nick DeLomba (4-0) will face 15-fight veteran Christian Steele of Staunton, Va., in a six-round bout. “Title For Title” also features the professional debut of Cranston native and U.S. Air Force veteran Zack Christy, who takes on Saul Almeida of Framingham, Mass., in a four-round super middleweight bout.
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