Anyone who knows boxing understands the history and prestige of the famed green belt, the coveted prize for winning a World Boxing Council (WBC) championship.
Established in 1963, the WBC has reigned supreme as one of boxing’s elite sanctioning bodies, representing 164 countries and sanctioning more than 2,000 world championship bouts, many under the guidance of former late president Jose Sulaiman.
The WBC also pioneered rule changes to further ensure the safety of fighters, among them the reduction of world championship bouts from 15 rounds to 12 in the early 1980s.
On Thursday night, Nick DeLomba and Jimmy Williams shared a rare opportunity to embrace the WBC’s history, which becomes a part of their future Friday, April 7th, 2017 when they face off for the WBC’s USNBC Welterweight Title at Twin River Casino.
CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr., a longtime ally of the WBC who promoted its first USNBC championship 12 years ago, presented both fighters with a lavish, black suitcase emblazoned with the WBC logo Thursday at Lock 50 in Worcester, Mass., the first leg of CES’ multi-city press tour to promote the upcoming DeLomba-Williams showdown.
Upon Burchfield’s encouragement, they popped the gold brass locks on top and flipped the lid to reveal the distinguished WBC championship belt, complete with a stunning gold centerpiece featuring the sanctioning body’s logo adorned with flags of all 164 member countries.
“Lift that belt up,” Burchfield said as DeLomba (11-1, 2 KOs) and Williams (12-0-1, 5 KOs) reached into the suitcase. “That’s the green belt. This is the real thing.
“Not only is this about what it means to win that belt, it’s where it takes you.”
The history of the USNBC championship is undeniable; nine current or former title-holders have gone on to win world titles and twenty-eight others have gone on to fight for a major world championship. Likewise, each of the five current USNBC title-holders are ranked among the top 40 in the world in their respective weight class.
The USNBC championship is an important first step, but, as Burchfield noted, it’s up to the winner to carve his own path. The 10-round DeLomba-Williams championship bout headlines a star-studded 11-fight card April 7th, CES Boxing’s second show of 2017 in its year-long 25th anniversary celebration.
Tickets for April 7th 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.
Originally born in Plainfield, N.J., but now fighting out of New Haven, Conn., Williams has won eight consecutive bouts since fighting to a draw with Greg Jackson, the only blemish on his record.
While playing college football at Southern Connecticut State University in 2008, Williams learned his mother, Belinda Jordan Williams, had been found murdered behind an abandoned building, strangled to death.
The case remains unsolved, but Williams hasn’t given up the fight, both in and out of the ring.
“She’s the reason my face is up there,” Williams said Thursday, pointing to the promotional banner featuring he and his opponent.
“Any man that steps in that ring with me is going to feel that pain. It’s nothing personal. This is what I’ve been through in life. Come April 7th, you’re going to see the best of Jimmy Williams. I’m focused. I’m ready. I’m in great shape. I know Nick comes to fight. This is a huge fight. The best fight the best. I respect him, but when that bell rings, he’ll know what time it is. April 7th, it’s on.”
A former soccer standout at Cranston West High School in Rhode Island, DeLomba rebounded from his first loss as a pro with three consecutive wins over Freddy Sanchez, Oscar Bonilla and Amos Cowart.
Like Williams, DeLomba also fights for his family, specifically his 1-year-old son, Nicolas Jr. – “He’s Italian, Portuguese, and he’s Puerto Rican, so I know he’s going to come out like a scrapper,” DeLomba quipped – and fiancée, Milly.
“Being a father has changed my life, DeLomba said. “This is what I do. I train day in, day out. They’re my drive. Just like [Williams] has something he fights for, my family is what keeps me going.
“We’re both gentlemen. I respect everything he said. I don’t have to say much, but if you haven’t seen me fight, April 7th, come see what all the noise is about. You’re going to see the best Nick.
“This the real belt. This is the real deal. It’s the green money belt. This is what all these fighters here want to fight for.”
The CES Boxing press tour continues Tuesday, March 28th, also at 6:30 p.m., at Powerhouse Gym in New Haven, Conn., located at 31 Bernhard Rd. The April 7th card features 11 bouts with 22 fighters boasting a staggering combined record of 105-16-8. Thirteen of those 22 enter with undefeated records, not including debut fighters Philip Davis of Worcester, Mass., and Ricky Delossantos of Providence, R.I., who face one another in a four-round super featherweight bout.
“This is the best card in New England in decades,” Burchfield said.
“[CES matchmaker] Michael [Parente], it’s really incredible what he does. He puts on the best of the best cards,” DeLomba said. “Look at all of these fighters here. They’re all great fighters and they’re fighting each other. Where else are you going to see a match like that? Where else are you going to see a card that has undefeated fighters fighting each other from top to bottom? You don’t see that, but that’s what Jimmy and Michael do.”
Two of those aforementioned undefeated fighters, junior middleweight Ray Oliveira Jr. (7-0, 1 KO) and Portland, Maine native Casey Kramlich (6-0-1, 3 KOs), face one another in the six-round co-feature.
Worcester, Mass., lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (3-0, 2 KOs) battles Glenn Mitchell (2-0, 2 KOs) of Steubenville, Ohio, and Junior welterweight Jonathan Figueroa (2-0, 1 KO) of Hartford, Conn., returns to face Springfield, Mass., vet Miguel Ortiz (1-0, 1 KO), both in four-round bouts. Worcester super middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr. (5-0-2, 4 KOs) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Rhode Islander and U.S. Air Force vet Zachary Christy (1-0-1) in a six-round bout.
April 7th also features an eight-round female welterweight showdown between Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (16-4-2, 1 KO) of Marshfield, Mass., and Mexican challenger Paty Ramirez (11-3, 5 KOs), in addition to a six-round New England Lightweight Title bout between Springfield, Mass., vet Zack Ramsey (7-1, 3 KOs) and unbeaten Augusta, Ga., native Divante Jones (9-0, 6 KOs).
Joining Aleksandra Lopes on April 7th is her stepson, Arturo Lopes (1-0), who ends an eight-year layoff in his return bout against Taunton, Mass., welterweight Marqus Bates (1-1, 1 KO). The Lopeses fight April 7th in honor of the late Manny Lopes, a former CES standout who passed away in December and will be inducted into the CES Ring of Honor.
Lynn, Mass., welterweight Khiry Todd (2-0, 2 KOs) battles Philadelphia’s Vincent Floyd (2-2-1) in a four-round bout and junior welterweight Cristobal Marrero (3-0, 2 KOs) of New London, Conn., by way of Worcester, returns for the first time since December in a four-round bout against New York’s Sidney Maccow (4-4, 3 KOs).