LINCOLN â€” Ask any professional boxer what the toughest part of their craft is and the answer is pretty much unanimous.
Itâ€™s not the fights themselves, nor is it the months of training and sparring they devote prior to those bouts.
Rather, itâ€™s the 24-48 hours before they have to weigh in on the day before their fights, and if you needed any proof of that, all you had to do was check out Thursday afternoonâ€™s final weigh-in and press conference at the Wicked Good Bar & Grillâ€™s back room at Twin River.
The dozen boxers who are featured on tonightâ€™s â€śPride & Powerâ€ť card downstairs at the Twin River Event Center were milling around, taking their turns on the scale, making sure their final paperwork was completed, and posing for a couple of pictures with their opponents.
Most of them spent their entire week doing everything in their power to drop down to their respective fight weights. Now they appeared drained, hungry, and almost listless, and some took a quick glance or two at the buffet that was being set up in the corner of the room, but knew that theyâ€™d have to wait a bit before they could invade it.
â€śThis is the worst,â€ť said Peter Manfredo Jr., who plummeted to 169 pounds for his fight against Lincoln resident Rich Gingras in tonightâ€™s marquee 10-round main event. â€śIt sucks. You canâ€™t eat, itâ€™s hard to sleep, and you go to bed with cottonmouth and things like that, and this is definitely something where you need willpower.
â€śThis is why (boxers) are strongminded people, and when I say strongminded, I mean, you know how much torture it is when you sit in a sauna when youâ€™re dehydrated and you need to take six or seven pounds off because you have no choice? That why we are who we are. Weâ€™re fighters.â€ť
Gingras, who is the owner and head trainer at Fight 2 Fitness on Blackstone Avenue in Pawtucket, agreed about the difficulty of making weight, but offered a different reason as to why the days before the weigh-in are difficult and trying.
â€śI lose weight pretty easily,â€ť admitted Gingras. â€śI have the diet right down, so itâ€™s easy for me now. But Iâ€™m a workaholic, so itâ€™s more sitting around with the extra time on my mind thatâ€™s more aggravating to me. You think a lot, and I like to be preoccupied.â€ť
Manfredo, who is dedicating the fight to Gary Balletto, the former EBA and IBU lightweight champion from Cranston who was paralyzed from the waist down in an accident at his home in July, will be seeking the 40th victory of his brilliant career, one that is highlighted by the IBO world middleweight title he won in 2010.
â€śI have to box this kid,â€ť admitted Manfredo, who is 39-7 (20 KOs). â€śObviously, Rich is coming to win, and obviously, heâ€™s a tough kid, but heâ€™s not on my level. The Peter Manfredo Jr. of old is coming out one more time tonight; hopefully, he will, and he wins big for Gary Balletto.â€ť
While Manfredo traditionally has a strong group of loyal fans in attendance at each of his fights, Gingras admitted that heâ€™ll have 300 backers in his corner, most of them sporting the red â€śFight 2 Fitnessâ€ť t-shirts that had become a common sight at his last four fights at Twin River.
â€śI just canâ€™t wait to get in there and have some fun,â€ť added Gingras, who is 13-3-1 (8 KOs), 3-1-1 over the past 14 months and since he ended a 2 1/2-year layoff from the sport to concentrate on opening his gym. â€śAll the hard workâ€™s done and now itâ€™s time to fight.â€ť
Fighting in the co-feature is four-time womenâ€™s world champion Jaime â€śThe Hurricaneâ€ť Clampitt. It will be the Warwick lightweightâ€™s first bout in three years, and itâ€™s expected to be her farewell fight, capping a marvelous career that has seen her produce a 21-5-1 (7 KOs) record. Clampitt will fight Dominga Olivo (8-8-1) of Brooklyn, N.Y. in a six-round duel.
The four fights on the undercard will also have a Rhode Island flavor to each of them, and two of them are six-round fights that feature Cranston natives and promise to attract lots of interest.
Fan favorite Arthur â€śThe Armenian Assassinâ€ť Saribekian, who will be fighting for the first time in a decade, will step into the ring for in a â€śspecial attractionâ€ť bout against fellow heavyweight Jesse Barboza (6-1-1, 4 KOs) of Hyannis, Mass., and welterweight and Gary Balletto-protegee Nick DeLomba (2-0) will clash with Carlos Hernandez (3-2-1, 2 KOs) of Bridgeport, Conn. and also dedicate his fight to Balletto.
Providence middleweight and East Providence High alumnus K.J. Harrison-Lombardi (3-0-1) will look to ruin the pro debut of Mike Rodriguez of Springfield, Mass. in their four-round matchup, and Providence light middleweight Publio Pena (1-1, 1 KO) will also look to pass a four-round test against Antonio Marrero (0-1) of Hartford, Conn.
â€śNow is the easy part,â€ť added Manfredo. â€śNow we can drink and eat all we want tonight and relax and then go put on a show for the people tomorrow.â€ť
A sellout is expected, and very few standing room only, $61, and $101 tickets are available. They can be purchased by calling CES (724-2253/2254), going online at www.cesboxing.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or visiting the Players Club at Twin River. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the first bout is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Twin River has also waived its 18-plus rule for the show, and everyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied at all times by an adult and enter the casino through the West entrance.
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24