Photos: Emily Harney
“The Pride Of Providence” might want to reconsider his retirement plans. Peter Manfredo Jr. (40-7, 21 KOs) returned to the ring Friday night at Twin River Casino, fighting in honor of his friend and fellow Rhode Island boxer Gary Balletto, and stopped the hard-charging Rich Gingras (13-4-1) of nearby Lincoln in the eighth round of the scheduled 10-round main event of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Pride & Power” professional boxing event.
The fight was billed as the “Pride” Manfredo against the “Power” Gingras, a hard-hitting up-and-comer who, like Manfredo, starred on the reality television series, The Contender. The two Rhode Island fighters put on a show worthy of Fight of the Year consideration in the finale of Twin River’s 2013 Fight Series.
Though Manfredo dominated toward the end, stopping Gingras at the 1-minute, 33-second mark of the eighth round, Gingras never made it comfortable for Manfredo, even hurting him midway through the third round to the point where it appeared Gingras was one or two punches away from a major upset.
Manfredo unofficially retired for the third time in March after decisively beating fellow Contender alum Walter Wright at Twin River, but decided to give it one more try Friday in honor of Balletto, who is paralyzed from the waist down following an accident at his home in July. With Balletto sitting ringside, Manfredo entered the ring wearing Balletto’s customary tiger-striped trunks, and, despite some tough moments at times, put together a performance reminiscent of both his and Balletto’s toughest fights.
Gingras opened the fight as expected, charging right at Manfredo with a flurry of rights and lefts. Manfredo withstood the initial surge, even fighting uncomfortably with his back to the ropes, before he began to stall Gingras’ progress with short, right uppercuts on the inside.
Having finished the opening round on a solid note, Manfredo began to pick up the pace in the second and third rounds, willingly trading with Gingras in the center of the ring and utilizing his experience to out-box and out-work his opponent at times, but Gingras turned the tide toward the end of the third, clubbing Manfredo with a hard overhand right against the ropes that sent Manfredo stumbling toward the neutral corner. With Manfredo visibly hurt, Gingras went in for the kill and again had Manfredo in a precarious position against the ropes, but Manfredo weathered the storm and survived the round.
Neither fighter had a significant edge in the fourth or fifth rounds, though Manfredo brought the crowd to its feet with a sharp right cross early in the fifth to momentarily stun the hard-charging Gingras. Continuing along the same pace of non-stop action, the two closed the round with another entertaining toe-to-toe exchange in the center of the ring that drew cheers from the crowd.
Manfredo regained control in the sixth and began out-boxing Gingras like he did in the second round, this time using his jab to dictate the pace. As the action picked up, Manfredo began landing more cleanly against the beleaguered Gingras, opening a nasty cut over Gingras’ left eye that clearly affected his concentration. Manfredo dominated the round, arguably the most lopsided round up until that point.
In the eighth, Manfredo finished Gingras for good, continuing to fight well on the inside and catching Gingras with short uppercuts. The fight ended on a brilliant right uppercut-left cross combo from Manfredo, prompting referee Joey Lupino to stop the bout as Gingras wobbled and tumbled helplessly into the ropes.
Jaime Clampitt finally got her storybook ending. Fighting for the first time in three years and the final time in her illustrious career, the Warwick, R.I., veteran Clampitt (22-5-1) faced a tough test against Dominga Olivo (8-9-1) of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the co-feature of Jimmy Burchfield’s “Pride & Power” professional boxing event at Twin River Casino. The two stood toe-to-toe most of the fight with Olivo actually gaining steam toward the end, but Clampitt’s dominance in the early rounds allowed her to finish on a positive note with a 59-55, 58-56, 58-56 unanimous decision win.
The victory put Clampitt’s final career record at 22-5-1 with 7 KOs, which included world titles in two different weight classes, and erased the sting from her knockout loss to Holly Holm in 2010, a fight that ended in controversial fashion when Clampitt suffered a neck injury within the first two minutes of the fight.
The scheduled six-round heavyweight special attraction between Jesse Barboza (7-1-1, 5 KOs) of Hyannis, Mass., and the veteran Arthur Saribekian (23-5-1) ended in dramatic fashion as Barboza scored a decisive knockout win at the 1:15 mark of the second round.
Fighting for the first time in more than 11 years, the 38-year-old Saribekian spent most of the first round trying to find his distance against the taller Barboza. In the second round, Barboza began his attack, backing Saribekian into his own corner with a vicious body blow. Saribekian bravely fought his way out as Barboza momentarily took his foot off the pedal before reestablishing his dominance and crushing Saribekian with a hard overhand right that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. Saribekian popped up quickly, but the referee immediately stopped the bout.
The opening bout between Providence’s Ethan Pena (2-0) and light middleweight Antonio Marrero (0-2) was as good as advertised with Pena winning a close, 38-37, 37-38, 38-37 split decision. The two traded blows throughout the fight, but Pena was a bit sharper and more accurate with his pitches, especially in the fourth and final round with the fight still hanging in the balance.
In the middleweight division, Providence’s KJ Harrison-Lombardi (4-0-1) avenged his loss to Mike Rodriguez (0-1) in the amateurs, this time beating the tall, lanky Springfield, Mass., native by unanimous decision, 39-36 on all three scorecards. Harrison-Lombardi pressed the action throughout the fight while Rodriguez tried to keep his opponent on the outside by utilizing his jab. The aggressor Harrison-Lombardi ultimately won on the scorecards to keep his unbeaten record intact.