PROVIDENCE, R.I. (May 22nd, 2014) — The last time Rich Gingras fought for a title, he only had the belt in his grasp for a few fleeting moments due to a bizarre scorekeeping gaffe that ultimately left him empty-handed.
This time, he’d prefer to take matters into his own hands, not leave the decision up to somebody else.
“This time, I’m bringing it home,” Gingras said. “It’s not going down like that.”
The heavy-hitting Gingras (13-4-1, 8 KOs) will face veteran Jaime Velazquez (11-6-2, 2 KOs) for the vacant New England Light Heavyweight Title Friday, June 6th, 2014 in the eight-round main event of “Unstoppable,” presented by Classic Entertainment & Sports at Twin River Casino.
The 42-year-old Velazquez, a native of Central Falls, R.I., returned to boxing in February, ending a 15-year drought by agreeing to face 45-year-old former two-time world champion Glen Johnson on just two week’s notice.
After pushing Johnson for four hard rounds, Velazquez is confident he can “hang with these young guys,” even if it means stepping back within his boundaries.
“No knock on Gingras, because he’s a hell of a nice kid, but he’s a local fighter,” Velazquez said. “Don’t get me wrong, I am, too, but at least I know it.
“I don’t have my trainer blowing smoke up my ass telling me I’m going to be a world champion. I work hard, train hard, and I listen. Then I hope for the best. I’m 42, and that’s OK.”
Thus begins the buildup toward another highly-anticipated regional showdown between two ring-savvy veterans, certainly not the first time Gingras has found himself in the middle of a border war at Twin River.
In July of 2013, he fought Providence’s Vladine Biosse for Biosse’s N.E. Super Middleweight Title. Gingras was originally announced as the winner by majority decision until state regulators discovered a scorekeeping error. Gingras was incorrectly awarded an extra point on one of the judge’s scorecards. The fight was scored a draw, not a win for Gingras, so Biosse retained his title.
“I assumed I had done more than enough to win,” Gingras said, “but, as boxing goes, judges see different things. I wish I was more patient, but I learned a lot over the past year. I’ve progressed tenfold since my first fight of 2013.
“The big show doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m pretty seasoned at this point.”
Now he’s fighting for the same belt, except in the 175-pound division, where he fought twice between 2009 and 2012. He hasn’t fought since November when he lost to Peter Manfredo Jr., but the time off – albeit not planned – might’ve been a blessing in disguise for Gingras, who admits his “fighting spirit” was worn out after suffering a draw and a defeat in the span of four months.
“It felt good to walk away,” he said. “I wanted to keep fighting, but my mind and body needed a break.”
“He’s had more time to make some of the corrections he needed to make,” said Gingras’ trainer, Orlondo Valles. “When I started training him, I didn’t have time to help him with different things or for him to learn what I was teaching him. During this time off, we were able to work on them a lot more. His conditioning is on point and he’s stronger than ever. He looks like a beast.”
Trained by Roland Estrada, the father of heavyweight contender and former U.S. Olympian Jason Estrada, Velazquez fought Johnson at 180 pounds in February and will now return to light heavyweight, where he spent the majority of his career before retiring in 1999.
“It was good to step in with someone like Johnson, but it was a tough fight on two week’s notice,” Velazquez said.
“It won’t be like that this time. Rich is a good fighter – real tough kid. He does what he has to do to win. He’s hungry. So am I. I know I can fight better and longer than I did last time.”
Added Estrada: “Jaime got the notice to fight with four weeks, but because he was already training, we felt that was ample time to train for a guy like Gingras.”
Tickets for the event are priced at $41, $76 and $126 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling 401-724-2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or at the Players Club at Twin River. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
The undercard features the return of Hyannis, Mass., heavyweight Jesse Barboza (8-1-1, 5 KOs), who will face Jamal Woods (4-11-3, 4 KOs) of Forrest City, Ark., in a four-round bout. Barboza has won four consecutive fights since 2013, including a unanimous-decision win over Glenn Thomas in March. Pawtucket, R.I., middleweight Thomas Falowo (11-2, 7 KOs), fresh off a win in February, and unbeaten Boston heavyweight Donnie Palmer (4-0-1, 4 KOs) will also be featured in separate six- and four-round bouts, respectively.