PROVIDENCE â€” It seems like almost yesterday, but it was on Oct. 14, 2006 when Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc. presented a marquee intracity duel between Providence super middleweights and bitter rivals Peter Manfredo Jr. and Joe â€śThe K.O. Kidâ€ť Spina that generated a ton of buzz across the state and packed the Dunkinâ€™ Donuts Center.
Since that epic showdown, CES put together some excellent intrastate and regional showdowns that resulted in some high-energy main events and co-features, but never was it able to duplicate a â€śbackyard battleâ€ť like the one that took place that action-packed fall night in Providence.
But expect that to change in a few weeks, because on May 24, CES is bringing together two of the Northeastâ€™s best super middleweights, Providenceâ€™s Vladine Biosse and Spina, to fight for the New England super middleweight title in the eight-round main event on the â€śUp For Grabsâ€ť card at the Twin River Event Center.
The 34-year-old Spina, a former WBC United States (USNBC) and IBF Inter-Continental champion who holds a 26-2-2 (18 KOs) record, and the 26-year-old Biosse, who is 12-1-1 (6 KOs) and the New England super middleweight champion, will fight for Biosseâ€™s title belt in a bout thatâ€™s sure to draw battle lines among their respective fans in the capitol city.
â€śThis is what keeps my adrenaline moving, itâ€™s a fight like this,â€ť CES president and CEO Jimmy Burchfield said at a luncheon at the Providence Marriottâ€™s Bluefin Grille promoting the event. â€śI want to compliment both teams and both fighters for accepting it. This is going to be a big, big night of boxing.â€ť
As many as 11 fights are scheduled for the latest in the â€śTwin River Thursday Night Fight Seriesâ€ť by CES, and three of them will involve fighters from the Blackstone Valley â€“ Woonsocket super middleweight Joe Gardner, Pawtucket middleweight Thomas Falowo, and Pawtucket welterweight Diego Pereira.
But the nightâ€™s piece de resistance is without question the Spina-Biosse fight. It features an 11-year veteran in Spina, who was once ranked among the top 10 super middleweights in the WBA and WBC, but looking to come back and make a last stab at a world title, and Biosse, the Cape Verdean native with a strong fanbase in Pawtucket and Central Falls and a little over three years of pro experience, but looking to quickly climb his divisionâ€™s ranks.
â€śI think what we have here is two different personalities,â€ť offered Burchfield. â€śJoey, with his image and everything, belongs on Jersey Shore, and Vladine, a former University of Rhode Island football player, is going to bring all the URI people here. This is a fight thatâ€™s probably going to be right in the center of the ring, and itâ€™s a fight that I would pay to see.â€ť
Both fighters will be especially hungry for a victory, and not just to please their loyal fans and earn bragging rights. The athletic Biosse is 1-1-1 over the past 12 months, but in his last bout, he copped a six-round unanimous decision from George Armenta of Silver Spring, Md. on March 22 at Twin River.
The power-punching Spina, meanwhile, is 5Â˝ weeks removed from his last fight, an eight-round split decision loss to Jerson Ravelo in Atlantic City, N.J. that many fight fans felt was a hometown call in favor of the Newark-based Ravelo. Spinaâ€™s only other loss was in his bout with Manfredo, a third-round TKO that came after he kicked off his career with as 19-0-1 record.
As for the other local fights, expect a large, vocal turnout of Woonsocket fans to see Gardner in action. The former New England light heavyweight champion, who is 8-4-1 (1 KO) and coming off a four-round unanimous-decision win over Pawtucketâ€™s Rameil Shelton on March 9 at the R.I. Convention Center, will take on Puerto Rican product Julio Garcia (4-3, 3 KOs) in another four-round test.
Falowo (6-0, 4 KOs) and Pereira (6-0-1, 2 KOs) are scheduled to fight in separate six-round bouts against opponents to be announced. Falowo posted a six-round unanimous-decision victory over Bronx, N.Y. fighter Troy Artis on the March 22 show at Twin River, and Pereiraâ€™s last fight was an entertaining six-round majority draw with undefeated New Haven prospect Edwin Soto (7-0-1) last Nov. 5 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Another fight with some local interest is a six-round cruiserweight contest between Richard Gingras, the owner and head trainer of the Fight2Fitness health club on Blackstone Avenue in Pawtucket, and Terrance Smith of Oklahoma City, Okla. Gingras, who is 11-2 (7 KOs), is also slated to fight Borngod Washington of Queens, N.Y. on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun before stepping into the run for his bout with Smith.
The co-feature will also be sure to attract plenty of state-wide hype. Itâ€™s a six-round super middleweight showdown and a â€śmust-winâ€ť duel pitting Providence fan favorite Richard â€śBobo the Bullâ€ť Starnino and West Warwickâ€™s Keith Kozlin. Starnino, who turned 40 yesterday, is 9-7-2 (2 KOs) with losses in his last three bouts, and Kozlin has a 6-3-1 (4 KOs) record, but 0-2-1 in his last three fights.
Tickets for the show are priced at $35, $50, $75 and $125 and available by calling CES at 724-2253, going online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, or visiting the Players Club booth at Twin River or any TicketMaster location.
The doors open at 6 p.m., and the first bout is scheduled for 7. Twin River has also waived its 18-plus rule for the show, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and enter through the West entrance.