When Oscar Bonilla approached CES Boxing matchmaker Michael Parente about fighting the winner of the May 13thNick DeLomba-Freddy Sanchez title bout, he really only had one opponent in mind.
“I honestly thought Freddy Sanchez was going to win,” Bonilla admitted, “but, hey, DeLomba’s conditioning was phenomenal and he pulled it off. That’s who I was really aiming for, but, you know, I’m a man of my word and I told you I wanted to fight the winner and DeLomba won, so that’s my next opponent.”
Staying true to his word, the Bridgeport, Conn., vet Bonilla (3-1-2) will face DeLomba (9-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout Friday, July 15th, 2016 on the undercard of CES Boxing’s summertime spectacular at Twin River Casino for DeLomba’s New England Super Lightweight Title. It will be DeLomba’s first title defense since capturing the vacant crown May 13th by beating Sanchez via unanimous decision and Bonilla’s first fight since last May, ending a 14-month layoff.
“I respect each and every fighter that gets in the ring with me,” DeLomba said. “This isn’t an easy game. It takes a lot of hard work, determination and guts to get in that ring and duke it out, so I respect anyone who wants to step up and take the challenge.
“[Bonilla] is a typical, come-forward, hard-working fighter. We’re not taking him lightly because we know he’s training for the title, so he’s going to train his hardest and come for us. We’re just going to get in the best shape we can and we’re going to go out there and perform, have another fabulous night and come out on top.”
DeLomba, a Cranston, R.I., native, fought most of his career at 147 pounds before dropping to a career-low 141 against Sanchez. He and Bonilla will fight at the super lightweight limit of 140, a major jump for Bonilla, who has never fought heavier than 135.
“I’m confident,” Bonilla said. “It is a big difference from 130 to 140, but I fought at 135 before and I’ve sparred many, many heavier people. It’s not something I’ve never experienced before. It’s just another opponent.”
While Bonilla may have been targeting Sanchez, he’s more than familiar with DeLomba’s body of work. Two years ago in just his fourth pro fight, the underdog DeLomba beat 12-fight vet and Bonilla’s former stable mate Edwin Soto in Connecticut.
“That win against Soto was actually shocking to me knowing Soto from when we were younger,” Bonilla said. “We grew up together and used to train together. Our amateur careers, we were growing up together, and I’ve seen how he’s fought and I’ve seen his ability. To beat him, it was like, ‘Wow, this kid is good.’ That just motivated me even more to be the next opponent in front of him.”
“I fought Edwin right in his backyard,” DeLomba recalled. “It was a tough fight. I had big gash over my eye. I got head-butted twice. Accidental head-butts. Typical righty-lefty clash of the heads. From the third round onto the sixth, I had to battle him seeing out of one eye. That fight was a war.”
Bonilla will get his wish July 15th, albeit as the self-proclaimed underdog against the veteran DeLomba, and it’ll be a welcomed change for DeLomba, who considered himself the underdog two months ago against Sanchez and weeks before the bout said, “there are going to be a hell of a lot of people in the stands … coming to watch me lose this fight.” The reigning champ was coming off a knockout loss to Gledwin Ortiz while Sanchez entered with a perfect 7-0 record and five knockout wins.
“Even though I fought the tougher opposition and my record speaks for itself, coming off that last fight I was the underdog and everyone was thinking maybe I was on the way out and Freddy was going to be the new rising star,” DeLomba said, “but we had 100 percent confidence we were going to win that fight.”
The roles have reversed for July 15th. DeLomba is back on top while Bonilla is the one with something to prove.
“I do feel that I am the underdog,” he said, “but ever since I started my pro career I’ve always been the underdog, so it’s really not that surprising to me. I do know for a fact I am the underdog. I know I’m on the ‘B’ side, but, like I said, that’s not taking anything from me.
“Once that bell rings, may the best man win. That’s it. Like I said, I’ve spoken to Nick before. He really seems like he’s a hell of a guy, but once the bell rings we don’t know each other. When the bell rings again, we can celebrate together.”
While DeLomba has turned his career around and found a permanent home with trainer Victor Fagnant, Bonilla has made several changes to his inner circle through the years, choosing now to stick with family first, namely his father, in addition to his trainer Carlos Nieves of Bridgeport.
“Me, my father, we’re doing this alone,” Bonilla said. “Carlos Nieves is actually giving me a hand, but, like I said, I told you I wanted to fight the winner. It’s not like I had someone backing me up or helping me get this fight. This is something I did. We’re doing this alone. We’ll see what happens.”
Undefeated Providence, R.I., native Angel Camacho Jr. (15-0, 5 KOs) headlines the July 15th card and puts his Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) International and New England Light Heavyweight Titles on the line in the 10-round main event against Willimantic, Conn., vet Kevin Cobbs (10-2, 4 KOs).
The Camacho-Cobbs main event is one of three title fights July 15th; Cranston, R.I., super lightweight Nick DeLomba (9-1, 2 KOs) makes the first defense of his New England Title in a six-round bout against Oscar Bonilla (3-1-2) of Bridgeport, Conn.; and Thomas Falowo (14-3, 8 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., the reigning New England Middleweight Champion, returns to Twin River for the first time in more than two years and puts his belt on the line in an eight-round rematch against Jersey City, N.J., slugger Chris Chatman (13-5-1, 5 KOs), who beat Falowo at Twin River in 2013.
Tickets for the event are priced at $42.00, $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.
July 15th also features the return of newly-crowned World Boxing Council (WBC) Female Middleweight World Champion Kali Reis (9-5-1), who captured the belt in April in New Zealand, in an eight-round bout against Atlantic City vet Althea Saunders (3-2-2), plus middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) and lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (1-0, 1 KO), both from Worcester, Mass., and the professional debut of New London, Conn., welterweight Cristobal Marrero.
Also on the undercard, Ray Oliviera Jr. (4-0, 1 KO) of New Bedford, Mass., battles Worcester’s Andy Gonzalez (3-0, 3 KOs) in a four-round junior middleweight attraction featuring two undefeated New England fighters.