PROVIDENCE, R.I. (July 2nd, 2014) – ESPN returns to the squared circle in New England tonight, and it’s only fitting CES Boxing is part of the show.
CES’ own Jimmy Williams and Shelito Vincent will star on the undercard of tonight’s special Wednesday edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., promoted by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s SMS Promotions and billed as 50 Cent’s 2nd Annual Birthday Bash.
The undefeated Vincent (11-0, 1 KO), a New London, Conn., native, will face Bronx super bantamweight Nydia Feliciano (7-5-3) in a rematch of their 2013 bout, which Vincent won by unanimous decision, while New Haven’s Williams (6-0-1, 3 KOs) faces another tough test against veteran welterweight Stephen Owusu (8-6, 4 KOs), also from the Bronx.
The televised portion of the card includes two junior lightweight bouts, starting with the 10-round co-feature between ESPN favorite Billy Dib and former world champion Alberto Galarza – Dibs’ first fight at 130 pounds – and concluding with the 12-round main event between unbeaten Mark Davis and southpaw Michael Farenas, an eliminator bout for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) world title.
Fresh off her win against Lakeysha Williams in May, Vincent hopes a change in her inner circle, along with a more important change in her workout regimen, will lead to another win over the always-dangerous Feliciano as she continues to press for a mega bout against fellow unbeaten bantamweight Heather Hardy.
Vincent endured her easiest weight cut yet while following a stricter, cleaner diet, relieving most of the pressures generally associated with fight week.
“I feel great,” said Vincent, who’s currently ranked No. 5 among super bantamweights in the World Boxing Council (WBC). “I changed up everything. My body looks amazing. This is the strongest I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t have to do anything crazy to lose the weight. I feel strong.
“I just changed up my diet,” she continued. “[My coaches] gave me the food I was supposed to eat and told me when to eat it. I haven’t cheated at all. My arms look great, my waist is small. You can see my muscles popping. It’s crazy how much your diet plays into everything. I didn’t realize that until now.”
If Feliciano is expecting the same Vincent she faced in January of 2013, she might be in for a rude awakening. Feliciano has evolved, too. Ranked No. 16 among bantamweights in the WBC, Feliciano beat Elizabeth Sherman and Crystal Hoy following her loss to Vincent and then fought eight hard rounds against Hardy four months ago in Brooklyn. Hardy won by unanimous decision, 79-73 and 78-74 on two scorecards.
“I didn’t see the fight with Hardy, but I heard two different stories,” Vincent said. “On one hand, I heard [Feliciano] got tired and tapered out toward the end, and then I heard the fight was close.
“I don’t really care who [Feliciano] expects to see [tonight]. I busted my ass in the gym.”
The payoff for beating Feliciano could be the long-awaited showdown against Hardy, a potential battle of unbeatens hyped vigorously on social media, mostly by Vincent, who’s been scrambling to fight the undefeated Brooklyn native since 2012. Hardy faced her toughest test in June at the Barclays Center against Jackie Trivilino, a fight stopped after seven rounds due to a cut on Hardy’s scalp. Hardy won on the scorecards, 68-65, 67-66, 66-67.
“I’m definitely just focusing on this fight for now,” Vincent said of tonight’s rematch with Feliciano. “We all know Heather Hardy won’t take a fight with me anyway. That’s out there now. It’ll happen when it’s forced, so I guess I’ll just sit back and wait for that. I didn’t watch the fight [against Trivilino]. I was training. Everyone knows she’s all hype by now. Even she knows she’s all hype.”
Williams is making his own steady climb to the top after scoring his most impressive win in May. Fighting for state bragging rights against Meriden’s Christian Lao, Williams won by first-round knockout, stunning Lao with a left hook at the 1-minute, 57-second mark. This, coincidentally, is Williams’ third appearance on a nationally-televised card. His professional debut in 2013 aired on NBC Sports as a swing bout, while his second pro fight two months later against Raynard Younger aired on FNF, also as a swing bout.
There’s no guarantee he’ll get more TV time tonight. Either way, the 27-year-old Williams is clearly unfazed by the bright lights, as evident not only by his performance in his two televised bouts, but also by his quick win over Lao.
“That’s what a real champion, a real fighter, is supposed to do,” Williams said. “When an opportunity like that presents itself, you have to take advantage. I’ve been blessed.”
The 36-year-old Owusu has had some time off in between fights, returning to the ring in 2011 following an 11-year layoff and ending a shorter, three-year layoff tonight against Williams, but he’s still coming off back-to-back wins and has only been stopped twice in 14 bouts.
“He’s tough. Hungry. He’s from the Bronx, so I know he’ll come to fight,” Williams said. “I’m coming to fight, too.”
A former college football player at Southern Connecticut State, Williams is fighting for the second time in five weeks and has won back-to-back fights since the lone blemish on his record, a draw against Atlantic City’s Greg Jackson in August of 2013.
“I’m glad I’m staying active,” Williams said. “That’s what I train hard for, so I can fight back-to-back fights. I’m ready to just keep fighting and keep building my record. Remain humble and train hard. That’s what I continue to do.”
Tickets for tonight’s even start are priced at $45.00, $75.00 and $100.00 and are available online at www.foxwoods.com. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the first fight begins at 7:30.