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He’s back! Gardner lands impressive ‘W’

March 12, 2012

Joe Gardner

Joe Gardner’s return to the super middleweight ranks was a triumphant one.
The Woonsocket Boxing Club veteran, who went 0-3 as a light heavyweight a year ago, returned to the win column in his old weight class this past weekend on Big Six Entertainment’s ‘Who’s Next?’ card at the R.I. Convention Center in Providence.
Gardner seized an all-Blackstone Valley showdown with Pawtucket’s Rameil Shelton by claiming a four-round unanimous-decision victory by scores of 40-36, 39-37, and 39-37.
It was Gardner’s first ‘W’ since he decisioned West Warwick’s Keith Kozlin to win the EBA New England lightweight championship on Nov. 12, 2010 at Twin River, and it was a win that sent a large gathering of Gardner’s loyal fan base back up Route 146 more than pleased.
“Everything was great,” added Gardner, who improved to 8-4-1, but 5-0-1 in fights where he was no more than 165 pounds. “Right now, I feel better than ever. I knew I hadn’t lost anything. My training has been better than ever and my sparring’s been more successful than it had been in the past. It’s just that my level of opposition was a little too high.”
Gardner, who actually found himself having to put on a few pounds before his last fight as a light heavyweight last December, had no problems at all getting down to 165 pounds for last weekend’s bout.
Originally, he was supposed to battle Borngod Washington of Queens, N.Y. in a six-round match, but when Washington “had some entanglements outside of boxing that prevented him from being there,” added Gardner, he was matched up with the 19-year-old Shelton, who is 16½ years younger than him.
Shelton, who skipped his senior season of football at Tolman High to turn pro on Sept. 3, 2010, had his finest round in the first and won the round on two of the three judges’ cards, but Gardner took over after that.
“The first round was close,” said Gardner. “I felt like I won it, but he did land a couple of big shots, and that might have been enough for the judges.
“But I landed some good body shots in the first couple of rounds, and in the last two rounds, my jab took over and I was able to outbox him. In the fourth (round), I landed a couple of good five-six punch combinations, but I couldn’t knock him down. He was pretty sturdy.”
Shelton fell to 0-4 with the loss, but Gardner had some words of praise for the teenage prospect, who turns 20 on May 1.
“He’s much better than his record,” Gardner said of Shelton. “I heard he was a pretty good amateur and went for a national title. He’s still young and he’s only going to get stronger. He’s got a great future ahead of him in this game.”
As for Gardner, he was back at the Woonsocket Boxing Club on Monday and looking forward to his next fight. A June fight on Big Six Entertainment’s next show is on his radar, and he said he wouldn’t mind fighting another opponent before then.
“I’ve had a few calls,” added Gardner. “There’s a show on Foxwoods on the 30th and I was hoping to jump onto that. (Big Six Entertainment) wants to use me in June on the next local show, and I’ll definitely jump on that. I’d like to string together a few more wins, and then we’ll see what happens.”

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