Andre Soukhamthath, of Woonsocket, will compete in Friday's MMA event at Twin River. (photo/Ernest A. Brown)
WOONSOCKET â€” Andre Soukhamthath just wrapped up a very productive camp at Tri-Force MMA in Pawtucket.
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The 24-year-old Woonsocket bantamweight will be fighting for the first time under the Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc. banner, and heâ€™s a handful of pounds away from making his weight for his upcoming fight.
Now if only he had a scouting report on his opponent.
Soukhamthath will be fighting Vinny Tisconie of Shrewsbury, Mass. on the undercard of CESâ€™s â€śProving Groundsâ€ť show tomorrow night at the Twin River Event Center, and the only thing he really knows about his opponent is that heâ€™s making his pro debut.
Tisconie will come into the fight with virtually no amateur experience, and a quick search for him and his background on Google comes up empty.
â€śI know heâ€™s been training for a year, and he wants to go pro and not fight in the amateurs,â€ť Soukhamthath said Wednesday morning. â€ś(CES matchmaker) Pat (Sullivan) told me and (manager) Jamie (Thompson) that heâ€™s a boxer, and he trains with another pro fighter, Ralph Johnson, but thatâ€™s it.
â€śThose are the guys that usually come out and start going for the knockout. Thatâ€™s what I really have to be careful for, but Iâ€™m trying not to think about it too much. Iâ€™m just going to go in there and do what Iâ€™ve been trained to do this whole camp.â€ť
And what a camp it was. Soukhamthath turned in a rock-solid three months of hard work at the Pawtucket compound with the Jeffrey brothers (and Tri-Force MMA owners), Peter and Keith, his father, Muay Lao coach William Soukhamthath, and his new boxing coach, David Keefe.
â€śMy camp was great,â€ť admitted Soukhamthath. â€śI feel a lot stronger. I never lifted weights before, but I did a new program for six weeks with Keith. I did strength training twice a week and now I feel like I punch harder, I feel like I kick harder, and my flexibility and cardio have gone up.
â€śMy new coach, Dave, has been teaching me a lot of things and just keeping my mind right. Iâ€™ve been getting some work in with my father, and Peterâ€™s also been teaching me a lot. The reason I won my last fight was because of him. He showed me that (guillotine) choke I used to win (the fight).â€ť
A lot has changed for Soukhamthath since that fight back on Feb. 3 at Twin River, a submission triumph over Gilvan Santos that was Soukhamthathâ€™s first in his two fights as a professional and saw his guillotine force Santos to tap out 44 seconds into the second round.
A month later, Soukhamthath became only the sixth MMA fighter to sign a promotional contract with CES, a deal which calls for him to fight four times over the next 18 months, starting with tomorrowâ€™s fight.
And in addition to some of the new aspects of his just-completed camp, he also has an â€śAsian Sensationâ€ť fight t-shirt that will be on sale in the Twin River Event Center lobby, but has already been scooped up by some of his fans on his â€śAsian Sensation 1st CES Fightâ€ť Facebook page.
Soukhamthath also got to throw out the first pitch of Tuesday nightâ€™s game at McCoy Stadium between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Gwinnett Braves, and heâ€™s also been plastered on posters and YouTube videos promoting the â€śProving Groundsâ€ť show.
â€śIâ€™m just really blessed and happy that a lot of people have supported me,â€ť he said. â€śTheyâ€™ll buy a ticket and theyâ€™ll buy a shirt too. I just want to keep getting better and higher and higher in this sport. Iâ€™m not getting a big head from all this or anything, but Iâ€™m not going to lie, itâ€™s fun and itâ€™s cool.â€ť
Soukhamthath also reported that Thompson, who is also his fiancĂ©, and her family will sell commemorative bracelets throughout the night to help raise awareness for Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare skin disorder that claimed the life of their nine-month-old son, LeAndre, in August, 2008.
The bracelets will also be on sale in the Twin River Event Center lobby, and the proceeds from the sales will benefit Befriend EB, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to giving financial assistance to families and victims affected by the disease.
In addition to Soukhamthath, there will be another local fighter on the card, Pawtucketâ€™s Keith Jeffrey, who will take a 7-2-1 record (with five victories via submissions) into his welterweight fight with Harley Beekman (4-1, 2 KOs) of Amsterdam, N.Y.
Jeffrey was the only area fighter out of the six who fought on the April 13 â€śNever Surrenderâ€ť card at Twin River to come away with a victory, as he was a split-decision winner over Chip Moraza-Pollard of Plymouth, Mass., taking the three-round duel by close scores of 30-27, 28-29, and 30-27.
Beekman also appeared on the â€śNever Surrenderâ€ť show and fought a Tri-Force MMA fighter in Providenceâ€™s Brennan Ward, a former All-American wrestling standout at Johnson & Wales University, in a battle of unbeatens.
Ward (2-0, 1 KO) used his superior grappling prowess and a high number of takedowns to cop a unanimous-decision victory and beat Beekman by scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.
R.I. fans will also be treated to a featherweight fight pitting Nate Andrews of Providence, who will make his professional debut, against Pedro da Silva (1-3, 1 KO) of Boston, Mass., and a lightweight contest between Joe Pingitore (1-0, 1 KO) of Johnston and newcomer Alan Beeman of Framingham, Mass.
Local fans will also surely keep an eye on bantamweight Billy Giovanella of Bellingham, Mass., who will make his pro debut against Santos (1-2), who hails from Framingham.
The main event is a lightweight duel between Abner Lloveras (14-6, 5 KOs) of Ludlow, Mass. and Ryan Quinn (8-3-1, 2 KOs) of New Fairfield, Conn., while another must-see fight is between featherweights Calvin Kattar (12-2, 7 KOs) of Methuen, Mass. and Chris Foster (4-2, 2 KOs) of Middletown, Conn.
Only $35 standing-room-only and $100 tickets remain for the show and can be bought by calling CES at 724-2253, going online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, at visiting the Players Club booth at Twin River or any TicketMaster location.
The doors will open at 6 p.m., and the opening bout is scheduled for 7. Twin River also has waived its 18+ rule for the show, and anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and enter through the West entrance.