Photos: Emily Harney
Nearly one year removed from what he originally thought would be his last fight, “The Pride Of Providence” made an emphatic – and successful – return to the ring Thursday night in front of his hometown fans. Peter Manfredo Jr. (38-8) dominated Pittsburgh, Pa., challenger Rayco Saunders (22-19-2) to earn a 99-91, 100-90, 100-90 unanimous-decision win at Twin River Casino in the 10-round main event of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “The Pride Is Back” professional boxing event.
Manfredo Jr., who last fought in November of 2011 in a knockout loss to world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., spent seven weeks with legendary trainers Freddie Roach and Ernie Zavala in preparation of Thursday’s fight and it showed as “The Pride Of Providence” utilized a steady jab throughout the night and simply out-worked the over-matched Saunders.
“Tonight, I felt good,” Manfredo Jr. said. “This was the longest layover I ever had. He was very, though – the biggest guy I’ve fought in a while. I just used my jab. Ernie and Freddie did a great job getting me ready for this fight and I showed.”
Manfredo Jr. circled the ring brilliantly, out-pointing Saunders throughout the fight. Saunders showed no willingness to establish his jab and failed to cut off the ring, allowing Manfredo Jr. to literally box circles around him for 10 rounds. Saunders stunned his opponent momentarily with a hard right hand in the fifth, but Manfredo Jr. survived the round and then bounced back with another methodical, well-executed performance in the sixth to stem the tide.
“This is my first step back,” Manfredo Jr. said. “You have to walk before you crawl.”
The co-feature starred Providence’s female bantamweight sensation Shelito Vincent (6-0), who kept her perfect record intact with a dominant 60-54, 59-55, 59-55 win over challenger Rosie Thomas. Vincent utilized her superior speed to earn her fifth win of the year and finish 2012 with a remarkable 5-0 record.
Springfield, Mass., welterweight Zack Ramsey (3-0, 3 KOs) made quick work of Mobile, Ala., newcomer Michael Lambert (0-1) in the opening bout, stopping his opponent in just 1 minute, 15 seconds. Ramsey sent Lambert to the canvas twice with referee Joey Lupino promptly stopping the bout after the second knockdown.
Light heavyweight Tylon Burris (4-0, 3 KOs) of Hartford, Conn., ended Kevin Cobbs’ five-fight winning streak with authority, stopping Cobbs at the 1:19 mark of the second round. Burris knocked down Cobbs in the opening minute of the first round and continued to apply the pressure in the second, rocking his opponent with a series of hard, overhands rights that sent Cobbs into the ropes. Lupino mercifully stopped the bout following another flurry from Burris.
In the six-round, super middleweight attraction, Joey Gardner (10-5-1) of Woonsocket, R.I., out-worked Providence’s Alex Amparo (5-1) to earn a 59-55, 58-56, 58-56 unanimous decision victory. Gardner was the busier fighter, effectively weaving in and out of trouble throughout the fight and landing more than enough punches while simultaneously avoiding any serious damage. The loss was Amparo’s first in six professional bout while Gardner picked up his second consecutive win and his third in his last four fights.