Former world title challenger Peter Manfredo, Jr., free from his promotional contract ties with the Tournament of Contenders, has gone back to the future, hooking-up with his original promoter, Jimmy Burchfield, and fighting against Walid “Tempete de Sable” Smichet this Saturday afternoon at Montreal Casino. Manfredo (31-6, 16 KOs), 28, faces Smichet (20-5-3, 14 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature that has career-determining implications for both fighters. Manfredo, star of The Contender, Season I, plans to work his way down to the middleweight division, although this bout is at 168-pounds. “I only had three weeks to get ready for this fight, so making it for 168 is a trade off, I guess, for fighting this guy in his backyard,” Manfredo explained.
“I feel good about dropping my weight to 160. I was too small as a super middleweight and I’ll be just right at middleweight. I won’t be a huge middleweight like Kelly Pavlik, but look at Sergio Mora. I beat him our second fight (Mora won a controversial decision); he beat me the first fight. He won a world title at 154 and now he’s fighting Pavlik for the middleweight title. I see myself as better, or at least the equal of Mora. I know I can be world champion. I have to rebuild but I’m a fighter and that’s what we do….fight! Walid may not be a world champion, but he’s a tough competitor who can fight. Everybody saw what he did to (John) Duddy (Smichet busted-up Duddy, who received 30-plus stitches and lost out on a $1.45 million fight against Pavlik).”
Burchfield, president of Classic Entertainment and Sports, Inc. (CES), signed Manfredo in 2000 and moved Peter to 21-0 in 3 ½ years, including wins against former world champion Frankie Randall and The Contender III eventual winner Grady Brewer, as well as The Contender I star Anthony Bonsante, before agreeing to release “The Pride of Providence” in order to participate in The Contender, in which, Manfredo reached the season finale against Mora. For the past three years, CES worked in association with the Tournament of Contenders, outside of the television reality series, on behalf of Manfredo.
“We’re picking-up where we left off,” an excited Burchfield said about getting back with Manfredo. “Peter is still one of the most marketable fighters in the world. He’s only 28 and wants to be world champion There’s a lot of upside. We had just signed a 3-year promotional contract and passed the CES ceremonial torch from Vinny Paz to Peter, when he asked for permission to fight on The Contender. He was the NABO champion and No. 3 in the WBO, but Peter’s like a son to me, and I couldn’t stop him from getting a shot at a $1-million prize for his family. That experience helped him become a household name in boxing circles. Our plan now calls for him to fight outside of New England for awhile, possibly one time in Italy, before fighting back at home. We have targeted (John) Duddy at middleweight.”
Nothing happens for Manfredo, however, unless he gets past Smichet, the former Canadian middleweight title-holder who has knocked-off previously unbeaten Matt O’Brien, fought a draw with Donny McCrary, and been in tough against Sebastien Demers and Duddy.
“He is a tough, hard-nosed, come forward fighter,” Manfredo’s father/head trainer Peter Manfredo, Sr. broke-down Smichet. “He is easy to figure out. Peter needs fight smart – box, angles, double-up on his jab, and work behind it. He can’t stand in front of him or it’s going to be a much harder fight. Everyone saw what this guy did to Duddy. You can’t get in too close with him because he has a nice right hand. I give a lot of credit to his trainer, Otis Grant.”
All of Manfredo’s pro losses have been to world champions or world-class fighters –Joe Calzaghe, Mora (twice), Jeff Lacy, Sakio Bika and Alfonso Gomez – and half were of them super middleweight. Peter is on his way down to 160 pounds with Duddy clearly in his sights.
“Duddy’s a great guy, unbeaten contender and a big draw,” Manfredo concluded. “We could make a lot of money for each other, Italian versus Irishman, in a great fight for fans like (Arturo) Gatti and (Micky) Ward. If that fight doesn’t happen there’s guys like Demers and others, but I have to take care of Smichet first and show people I still have it.
“I’m glad to be back with Jimmy. He’s a great guy, like family. I started with him and trust him. I can talk to him about what’s on my mind, vent if I have to, and he’ll always send me in the right direction. I believe he can take me to the place I want to be – world champion. I have the name and he has the connections. Together we can make one last run. I’m taking it one fight at a time and we’ll see where it takes us.”