Peter Manfredo Jr. has faced every challenge a professional boxer could deal with inside the ring, but there’s nothing that could motivate him more than what he’s facing as he begins his comeback. “I’m fighting for my family,” Manfredo Jr. said Wednesday on the eve of his 10-round super middleweight bout against Pittsburgh veteran Rayco Saunders, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 at the Twin River Event Center. “When I was on “The Contender” I did it for my family and I’m still doing it for my family,” said the Providence, R.I., icon, who will end his brief retirement in the main of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “The Pride Is Back” boxing event, appropriately named for Manfredo Jr., “The Pride Of Providence.”
“My father [Peter Manfredo Sr.] thinks I’m doing it for all the wrong reasons, but I’m doing it for the right reasons. Boxing is about taking care of your family, and that’s what I’m doing. This is what I’ve been doing all my life. God gave me a gift and I’m going to use it.” Manfredo Jr. (37-7, 20 KOs) and his father have only worked together briefly in anticipation of Thursday’s bout.
Instead, Manfredo Jr. spent six weeks in California training with Freddie Roach and Ernie Zavala. The former helped him during the height of his career shortly after his successful stint on the debut season of The Contender reality television series.
“[My father] is a little upset with me, but deep down he knows I love him,” Manfredo Jr. said. “You’re only as good as the environment you’re in. I love my father, but I felt I had to get away from him and go somewhere where I’d be at my best, and I was always at my best with Freddie and Ernie at Wild Card [Boxing Club].”
Saunders (22-18-2, 9 KOs), a determined, 38-year-old veteran stated “I’m 38 going on 25. I feel great. I definitely plan on winning [Thursday]. I know Manfredo has different plans, but this is my plan.
“I respect Peter Manfredo for fighting me. I’m not your typical 38-year-old guy. I’m just as fast, if not faster. I’m stronger than Manfredo. I’m bigger than Manfredo. These qualities will show [Thursday] night. I look forward to it. I’m on a roll toward 100 fights. I know people don’t fight like that anymore, but I do. If I could do this once a week I would. They call me ‘Rayco War’ for a reason.”
Manfredo Jr., who lost his last fight a year ago to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Texas, respects Saunders and his impressive resume and is planning on a long, yet successful, night.
“He’s incredible,” Manfredo Jr. said of Saunders. “He’s here to fight. He’s fought everyone in the world at light heavyweight and hung in there with all of them. I’m in for a fight. Marlon Starling once asked me, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen to you?’ I said, ‘Lose?’ and he said, ‘No, you get in a fight.’
“That makes sense to me. I’m ready to fight. I plan on going 10 rounds. I’m in shape for 10. If I knock him out, that’s a bonus. I’m in great shape and ready for a battle.”
Tickets for Nov. 29 are available at $40.00, $60.00 and $100.00 and can be purchased online at www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7. CES is also partnering with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) to sponsor a holiday toy drive at Twin River. All fans attending are encouraged to donate a toy at the fight to help benefit needy families during the holiday season.
“The Pride Is Back” also features a six-round super middleweight intrastate showdown between Alex Amparo (5-0, 3 KOs) of Providence and Joe Gardner (9-5-1, 1 KO) of Woonsocket and the long-awaited return of super middleweight “Mr. Providence” Vladine Biosse (14-1-1, 7 KOs), who will New Jersey’s Dennis Sharpe (17-9-4, 4 KOs) in a six-round bout. Female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (5-0) of Providence (New London, Conn.) will battle unbeaten Rosie Serine (2-0) of Ottawa, Canada; and Burlington, Vt. (Willimantic, Conn.), light heavyweight Kevin Cobbs (6-0, 2 KOs) will face Tylon Burris (3-0, 2 KOs) of Hartford, Conn. Welterweight Zack Ramsey (2-0, 2 KOs) of Springfield, Mass., will battle newcomer Michael Lambert of Mobile, Ala., in a four-round bout. All bouts are subject to change.
(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “The Pride Is Back.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)