According to Joseph “Chip” Perez, it all started when Chazz McDowell called him out a couple of years ago. McDowell (6-2, 1 KO) says it never happened. Perez (9-1, 3 KOs) says he’s got proof. “I still have the newspaper article,” Perez said. “I save everything.”
Now the 25-year-old junior lightweight from East Hartford, Conn., will save the rest of his talking for the ring when he and McDowell face one another for the vacant New England title Thursday, October 18th, 2012 in the eight-round main event of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Closing Statement” boxing event at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I.
A fight that has been years in the making between two Connecticut natives will finally become a reality Thursday night as Perez and McDowell put it all on the line in their first title bout.
“What I see and hear is he keeps coming forward. He’s a slugger – nowhere near a boxer,” said McDowell, a Hartford native who also lives and trains in Yonkers, N.Y. “He’s going to see a boxer [on Thursday night]. What I’m going to do is outbox him and just outclass him. He just keeps coming forward and gets frustrated a lot. I’m looking to frustrate him and make him mad.
“Honestly, I’m looking at this as an easy fight.”
“I don’t really have much to say,” Perez countered. “You’ll see at the fight. He doesn’t impress me at all, to be honest. He’s a pretty slick fighter – fast and sharp – and he definitely comes to fight. All the talking, he’s said the same things in his previous fights and we all saw the outcome. I’m not one to talk. I’m ready to fight.”
Perez is coming off a hard-fought win in July over veteran Johnny Frazier, whom he knocked out at the end of the fourth round, while McDowell is looking to rebound from a close, unanimous-decision loss to unbeaten super featherweight Emanuel Gonzalez, a fight in which McDowell said he was deducted a point in the opening round for an inadvertent low blow.
“They had it in for me from the start,” McDowell said “The scorecards were horrible.”
For Perez, the fight against Frazier might’ve been the toughest of his career. They exchanged blows throughout the first three rounds until Perez knocked Frazier down and out at the bell to end the fourth – his first knockout since November of 2010.
“Those fights get you hyped,” Perez said, “because training camp is rough and you go through hell, so when you see the fighter you’re facing get excited, you get excited, too. It definitely gets me more hyped up to step in there.”
Training camp has been even more intense this time around, especially since this is not only Perez’s first eight-round fight, but his first time headlining a major show as well.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve trained really hard. It’s been a real intense training camp. With the way things have gone, I’d be ready for 12 rounds if it was a 12-round fight. This fight is a huge stepping stone for me in my career.”
McDowell has been working with various sparring partners, including undefeated Newburgh, N.Y., featherweight Patrick Hyland, to emulate Perez’s style.
“This is a huge fight for me,” McDowell said. “It will get me back to where I need to be. I want to be a world champion and I want the world to recognize my talents.”
Both fighters have dreams of winning world titles, but first must get through one another Thursday night in what will be the ultimate grudge match, not only because of how evenly-matched the fight is inside the ring, but because of the bad blood that has been brewing behind the scenes.
“There’s been a lot of talk,” McDowell said. “He said I called him out, which is not true. I did an interview and they made it seem like something it’s not. I’ve never said anything bad about him. Our names popped up together a couple of times. Now it’s a reality.”
The two actually came face-to-face last month at a pep rally in Rhode Island to promote the event, but both kept their cool as they promised to put on a show for the hometown fans.
“That was the first time I saw him in person,” Perez recalled. “When he called me out, I found out who he was. I looked him up. I got some information. I figured we’d meet up someday. That’s why I was never in a rush. I knew this day would come sooner than later, and I’m glad it came when it did.
“I’m happy he’s confident and talking the way he is. I want to beat him at his best.”
In the end, both fighters realize these are the kind of fights that can help build a career – the fights that need to happen in order to become legitimate title contenders.
“I’m ready for whatever,” Perez said. “My whole career, all I’ve been fighting is tough fighters and I’ve been getting the ‘W.’ It hasn’t been a walk in the park. These are the fights I have to take to get to where I want to be.”
Tickets for “Closing Statement ” are $40.00, $75.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com or 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.
“Closing Statement” also features two highly-anticipated rematches. Providence, R.I., super middleweight Alex Amparo (4-0, 2 KOs) and Nick Lavin (2-3, 2 KOs) of Shelton, Conn., will face another again almost one year to the date of their first showdown in October of 2011, a fight Amparo won by majority decision, 39-37, 38-37, 38-38, at Twin River. Providence female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (4-0) will face Ivana Coleman (0-1) in a four-round rematch after beating Coleman unanimously in July.
Hard-hitting heavyweight Alexis Santos (6-0, 5 KOs) of Lawrence, Mass., will put his undefeated record on the line against Providence’s Josh Harris (8-6-1, 6 KOs). Former The Contender reality television star Rich Gingras (11-3, 7 KOs) of Attleboro, Mass., returns to face veteran Dennis Ogboo (7-5, 6 KOs) of Lexington, Ky., in a four-round light heavyweight bout and newcomers Jon Smith of Cranston, R.I., a former three-time New England Golden Gloves champion, and Dinis Paiva Jr. of East Providence, R.I., who has five professional mixed martial arts fights under his belt, will square off in a four-round welterweight bout.
“The Vermont Bully” Kevin Cobbs (5-0, 1 KO) of Burlington, Vt., will look to keep his perfect record intact when he faces tough veteran Alexander Mancera (8-4-1, 5 KOs) of Queens, N.Y., in a four-round light heavyweight bout and middleweight Thomas Falowo (7-1, 5 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., will battle Ontario, Canada veteran Michael Walchuk (9-6, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout. Woonsocket, R.I., middleweight Joey Gardner (8-5-1, 1 KO) will face Philip Burnette (2-5, 1 KO) of Myrtle Beach, S.C., in a six-round bout. Providence junior lightweight Toka Kahn (2-0, 2 KOs) will also be featured on the undercard in a four-round bout against Jamell Tyson (3-8-2, 1 KO) of Rochester, N.Y.
(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Closing Statement.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)