He works full-time five days a week, sometimes six, installing insulation in homes, and can even do construction, everything from dry wall to stick framing.
When he’s done, he rides his bike to the Big Six Boxing Academy in Providence — seven and a half miles there, and seven and a half home — to work on the one craft you can’t learn in a classroom.
Elijah Peixoto (1-0, 1 KO) might be the best-kept secret in New England boxing if not for his extensive amateur background. The 24-year-old East Providence, RI, native’s resume dwarfs that of most who’ve come out of this region and puts him in elite company with some of the best in the northeast to lace up in the gloves.
A boxer since the age of 12, Peixoto finished 119-27 as an amateur, including four Southern New England Golden Gloves championships, multiple New England Regional titles, four additional Regional Junior Olympic championships and a trip the 2018 Olympic Trials Qualifiers. Two years before that, he won the Cape Verdean Olympic Trials, but the team did not compete due to financial reasons.
Arguably one of a handful of truly elite fighters to emerge from New England in this generation, Peixoto recently signed a long-term promotional agreement with CES Boxing and will make his Rhode Island debut Friday night at Twin River Casino Hotel in a four-round super lightweight bout against Tampa’s Carlos Otero (2-0).
Tickets start at $47 are available online at www.cesboxing.com or www.showclix.com or by phone at 401-724-2254. Doors open at 6 p.m. ET. Showtime is 7.
“I want to put on the best show I can,” Peixoto said. “I’ve been in with the best of the best. I’m not afraid to step in there with anyone, and if I have to step up early in my career to show everyone I’m ready, I’m with it.
“It’s going to be crazy. The energy is going to be wild.”
The work ethic that pushes Peixoto to work a full-time job — and not just a desk job, but a job that requires demanding, physical labor — and balance it with his boxing career was instilled at an early age. His grandfather, Charlie Babbitt, and father, Ricardo Crawford, introduced him to the sport as a child. He boxed in all circles, training and sparring as a youth alongside Rhode Island icons Jamie Clampitt, Gary Balletto and Jarrod Tillinghast, absorbing as much as he could along the way. He also met former pro Josh Beeman through his current trainer, Roland Estrada.
Upon launching his amateur career, Peixoto knew it’d only be a matter of time before he turned pro. To put his resume into perspective, Peixoto faced current unbeaten Worcester, MA, lightweight Jamaine Ortiz — who also appears on Friday’s show — seven times as an amateur. The two also fought alongside one another at the 2016 Trials, Ortiz at 141 pounds and Peixoto at 132.
“Every time was a war, and when I say a war, I mean a war,” Peixoto said. “There’s a mutual respect between us. That’s the kind of brotherhood you normally wouldn’t have with another sport.”
The two met up again at an amateur event in Rhode Island, where Ortiz urged Peixoto to turn pro.
“A year later we’re on the same card,” Peixoto said. “Life is crazy sometimes.”
Fighting everywhere as an amateur from Memphis to Spokane to Chattanooga prepared Peixoto for that long-awaited pro debut, and, as expected, he put on a show, stopping Carlos Galindo in the second round of their scheduled four-round fight in June.
“When I was younger, people always told me I had more of a pro style. That’s how my father taught me,” he said. “You could look at my style and say, ‘That kid is going to be great.’ It’s written all over the walls.”
Peixoto, who graduated from East Providence High School and went to vocational school to learn construction, expects to climb the ladder quickly. In his just his second fight, he faces Otero, also an accomplished amateur, who goes by the nickname “Slick Hands.” When Estrada fielded the offer for Peixoto to fight Otero, he never hesitated to accept, bluntly stating, “Elijah can take care of himself in the ring.”
The four-round fight between the two could steal the show on Friday’s stacked undercard, which would be a fitting scenario for the long-awaited homecoming of one of Rhode Island’s most accomplished amateurs. The hard work is starting to pay off, and as the accolades roll in, Peixoto will undoubtedly answer the bell by continuing to outwork everyone in his path.
“If you really want something, you have to work for it,” Peixoto said. “I hope that other person is training as hard as me, because when I step in that ring you know I’ll be working from Day 1.
“This sport makes me dig deep because I want to get to that level where I don’t have to work. I want to work hard now so I won’t have to work anymore. I want everyone to know my skill level and my passion.”
Next Friday’s main event features reigning NBA Heavyweight World Champion Juiseppe Cusumano (18-2, 16 KOs) of Sicily in the quest to add another belt to his collection when he battles “The Gentle Giant” Steve Vukosa (11-1, 4 KOs) of nearby Quincy, MA, in an eight-round bout for the vacant WBC USNBC crown.
In the co-main event, Ortiz (11-0, 6 KOs) the reigning WBC Youth World Lightweight Champion, puts his unbeaten record on the line in an eight-round showdown against French challenger Romain Couture (8-1-1, 4 KOs), who makes his United States debut.
The undercard features six undefeated prospects looking to keep their perfect records, including Pawtucket, RI, featherweight Ricky De Los Santos (8-0, 1 KO), who battles Reading, PA, vet and Dominican standout Yeuri Andujar (4-1, 3 KOs) in a six-round featured bout. Lightweight Michael Valentin (6-0, 1 KO) of Providence, RI, also steps up in his toughest test to date against Philadelphia’s Lonnie Jackson Jr. (4-1-1, 1 KO), in a six-round special attraction.
Another red-hot fighter, Marqus Bates (7-2, 5 KOs) of Taunton, MA, aims for his sixth consecutive win in an intriguing six-round welterweight bout against well-traveled Lancaster, PA, vet Evincii Dixon (8-23-2, 3 KOs), who fights for the 34th time in six years and returns to Rhode Island for the first time since 2013.
Also facing a tall order on the undercard, Big Six Boxing Academy super welterweights Victor Reynoso (4-0, 4 KOs) and Lamont Powell (4-0, 1 KO), both of Providence, put their identical records on the line in four-round featured bouts. Reynoso battles Canadian Kenny Chery (2-2, 1 KO), whom Powell faced in February, while Powell looks to build off his impressive win in April in a major step-up against Reading’s Ricardo Garcia (14-7-1, 9 KOs), a Dominican Republic native and veteran of 22 professional fights. Worcester, MA, welterweight Nicholas Briggs (4-0, 3 KOs), also unbeaten, returns to face Macon, GA, native Bryan Goldsby (5-13), a veteran of 18 professional bouts.