by James Slater – Last night, in Uncasville, Connecticut, middleweight contender Peter Manfredo Junior put on one of his best ever performances as he hammered an outclassed Matt Vanda en route to a clear ten-round unanimous decision victory. 29-year-old Manfredo triumphed by scores of 100-89 (twice) and 99-90. “The Pride of Providence” improved to 34-6(18), while “The Predator” fell to 42-10(22).
In picking up the vacant NABF 160-pound crown with his impressive win over the tough warrior who made his name when he came within a whisker of defeating the heavily-hyped Julio Chavez Junior, Manfredo Junior kept himself on course for a crack at a version of the world middleweight title.. Going by last night’s performance, it would not be a huge shock at all if the former “Contender” star were to manage a win over one of the reigning middleweight champions – Manfredo would have a damn good shot at Sebastian Sylvester, in my opinion at least; if the IBF ruler doesn’t lose to late challenger Billy Lyell tonight, that is.
Manfredo, looking in great physical condition (in hindsight, maybe he should have been a middleweight all along) put his punches together well and he had plenty of stamina. Okay, having things your own way, as Manfredo did last night, allows a fighter to avoid looking in any way tired, but last night’s winner threw a lot of punches without fading. Body shots and uppercuts to the head worked a treat for Manfredo, and all the durable Vanda could do was take the shots.
Manfredo scored a knockdown in the 6th-round, with a cracking body shot, and it looked as though a stoppage might occur. 31-year-old Vanda, though, sucked it up and got through the round and then fought on as best he could to the final bell. Having been all but shut-out all the way as he was, Vanda deserves credit for not having thought about giving in and quitting (for the record, Vanda has only ever been halted once as a pro; by Armando Velardez back in 2004).
So, what now for Manfredo? The new NABF middleweight champion has spoken in the past about not wanting to rush into a world title fight, saying he wants to be 100-percent ready so as to be able to win the title, not just challenge for it. And though many fans wrote him off after his 3rd-round TKO defeat at the hands of Joe Calzaghe, Manfredo, who was also stopped in the 3rd against Sakio Bika, also up at 168, has now won three in a row at the lower weight. Ranked pretty high going into last night’s bout, the win will push him up a few notches.
It would be some great story indeed if the man from Rhode Island were able to win a world title in the tenth year of his pro career; but I wouldn’t bet against it happening!