East Hartford, Conn., native Joseph “Chip” Perez captured the vacant New England Junior Lightweight title Thursday night at Twin River Casino, narrowly defeating Chazz McDowell by majority decision. McDowell (6-3) came out strong, utilizing his slick jab to frustrate Perez (10-1) in the early rounds, but Perez worked his way to the inside and finished strong in the final three rounds of the eight-round main event to earn a 76-76, 77-75, 78-74 win.
The title bout between Perez and McDowell, which was a battle between two Connecticut natives (McDowell was born in Hartford and raised in Yonkers, N.Y.), highlighted a dynamic, nine-fight card presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports.
The co-main event featured an explosive battle between female bantamweights Shelito Vincent (5-0) and Ivana Coleman (0-2), who faced one another for the second time since July. Vincent, the popular, Providence, R.I., native who’s established a steady fan base in both Rhode Island and her hometown of New London, Conn., dominated the rematch much like she did in the first bout, beating Coleman unanimously, 40-36, on all three scorecards.
Fighting for the first time since switching strength coaches, Vincent looked much stronger and faster than she did in the first bout against Coleman three months ago. She landed early and often and kept Coleman, a native of Slidel, La., from developing any rhythm.
Welterweight Jon Smith (1-0) of Cranston, R.I., a three-time New England Golden Gloves champion as an amateur, looked sharp in his professional debut, beating fellow newcomer Dinis Paiva Jr. (0-1) of East Providence, R.I., by unanimous decision, 40-36, 40-36, 39-37. Junior lightweight Toka Kahn-Clary (2-0) of Providence returned to the Ocean State for the first time since his professional debut only to have his bout against Rochester, N.Y., native Jamell Tyson (3-8-2) cut short due to an accidental head-butt in the second round, resulting in a no contest. Both fighters ended up with matching cuts over their eyes.
“The Vermont Bully” Kevin Cobbs (6-0, 2 KO) of Burlington, Vt., kept his perfect record intact in thrilling fashion, finishing determined veteran Alexander Mancera (8-5-1) of Queens, N.Y., with two minutes remaining in the fourth round. Mancera hung in for three rounds, but ultimately ran out of gas in the fourth. Cobbs, who dominated on the inside throughout the fight, finished Mancera with a short right to the temple.
Former reality television star Rich Gingras (12-3, 8 KOs), formerly of The Contender and now training out of Attleboro, Mass., returned to the ring following a five-month layoff and beat Lexington, Ky., light heavyweight Dennis Ogboo (7-6) via technical knockout in the second round. Gingras drove Ogboo into the ropes with a flurry of punches and then knocked his opponent to the canvas with an overhand left to the temple at the 2:32 mark, prompting Ogboo’s corner to throw in the towel.
Woonsocket, R.I., middleweight Joey Gardner (9-5-1) overcame a slow start and narrowly escaped with a 56-59, 57-56, 58-55 split-decision win over tough veteran Philip Burnette (2-6) of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Gardner earned the win – just his second in his last five fights and first since March – despite getting knocked down in the second round.
The highly-anticipated rematch between Providence super middleweight Alex Amparo (5-0, 3 KOs) and Nick Lavin (2-4) of Shelton, Conn., didn’t last as long as the first fight. After beating Lavin by majority decision a year ago, Amparo finished the job Thursday, stopping Lavin 53 seconds into the fourth round. Amparo dominated from start to finish, knocking Lavin to the canvas 30 seconds into the opening round, and then pummeling his opponent with overhand rights throughout the rest of the fight. Referee Joey Lupino stopped it in the fourth when Amparo unloaded with a flurry of unanswered punches after driving Lavin back into the corner.
Coming off a dominant win in July, middleweight Thomas Falowo (8-1, 6 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., picked up right where he left off, stopping Michael Walchuk (9-6, 2 KOs) of Ontario, Canada, :40 into the fifth round. Falowo controlled the pace from the opening bell and eventually ended it in the fifth when he drove Walchuck into the ropes with a flurry of lefts and rights. Falowo has now won two consecutive fights by knockout since his first career loss in May.