Woonsocketâs Joe Gardner takes a moment from his workout at the Woonsocket Boys & Girls Club on Friday night in anticipation for his next fight, which is slated for this Friday night at the Twin River Event Center. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
WOONSOCKET â Nine times out of 10, Joe Gardnerâs super middleweight fight with Richard Gingras would be worthy of a main event at the Twin River Event Center.
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But when one of the fights on the card is a world title fight and the other bout pits one of Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.âs most decorated fighters in a must-see showdown, itâs understandable why the Woonsocket fighter will merely be topping an action-packed undercard.
Gardner will seek his fourth straight victory since last October when he takes on Gingras, a resident of South Attleboro and the owner and head trainer of the Fight 2 Fitness health club in Pawtucket, in a six-round clash on CESâs âThe New Eraâ card on Friday night.
Gardner, who is 11-5-1, is enjoying his best stretch as a pro since 2010, when he finished that year off with three straight victories, the last of which earned him the New England light heavyweight championship.
He was originally supposed to face Providenceâs Alex Amparo in a rematch of their Nov. 29 battle at Twin River that saw Gardner outwork and outbox the previously-undefeated Amparo and land an impressive six-round unanimous-decision victory.
But when Amparo was forced to withdraw from the rematch a few weeks ago due to a rib injury, the search was on to find Gardner an opponent, and when the dust settled, Gingras popped up on the radar.
âI know him fairly well, mostly from around the gyms and talking to him at the weigh-ins and press conferences,â Gardner said on Thursday. âWe always seem to hit it off.â
Gingras (12-3, 8 KOs), a power puncher, is well known in and outside the area. He was a contestant on the fourth season of âThe Contenderâ reality TV series in 2008, but a year later, he took a 2Â˝-year hiatus from the ring to concentrate on his new fitness and boxing studio on Blackstone Avenue.
A cruiserweight who fought (and recorded a second-round TKO) in his last fight on Oct. 18 as a light heavyweight, Gingras will drop down another weight class to the 168-pound super middleweight ranks to battle Gardner, but like Gardnerâs fight with Amparo, there will be a double weigh-in.
Not only will both boxers have to weigh in at 168 pounds at Thursday afternoonâs weigh-in, but before Fridayâs fight, they will be required to step back on the scale and not reach more than 175 on it.
â(Gingrasâ camp) wanted to have the fight at 175, but I said, âNo way, heâs too big and strong,â â noted Gardner. âHe makes his weight at the weigh-ins with no problem, but on the nights of his fights, he blows up big time. This way, I know he wonât get huge on me and his power wonât be a factor.
âItâs going to come down to boxing, and Iâve had more experience lately. Heâs had four fights since 2009, and none of them have gone over two rounds. I think my boxingâs way better, and itâs shown in my last few fights.â
To prepare for Gingras, Gardner has been hard at work in the gym the past few months â on Wednesday, he had a productive night of sparring with Vladine Biosse in Providence â and he has also done his homework on Gingras, particularly on YouTube, where heâs viewed plenty of footage of him in the ring.
âI just want to do what Iâve been doing and just box and make adjustments to what heâs doing,â said Gardner. âI watch stuff on (Gingras) daily on YouTube, and itâs kind of the same blueprint. He kind of walks forward and tries to throw hard shots, but if you donât stand in front of him, you should be okay.â
Gardner is two months removed from his last fight, a March 15 showdown at Twin River for intracity bragging rights against his former training partner, Reynaldo Rodriguez, that Gardner won by three scores of 58-56.
âHeâs a much better opponent than anyone might think,â Gardner said of Rodriguez, who fell to 6-6 (3 KOs). âReynaldoâs has a bad run in his comeback, but he actually was more technical than Alex was and he gave me a hard fight.
âI think the judges gave him the first and the last rounds because he came out and he was busier than me in the first, but in those other four rounds, I was pretty much dominating him. In the fifth round, it seemed like he was either dead or saving something up, because in the sixth, he came out pretty aggressive.â
While Friday nightâs fight will be Gardnerâs seventh in the last 18 months, he doesnât see himself slowing down any time soon. In fact, heâd like to return to action sometime this summer, hopefully on the next CES card if one takes place back at the Lincoln casino or in Connecticut.
âI feel great,â he added. âIâve been getting fights every couple months and everythingâs been good. I want to stay busy and make a couple of pushes for some big fights, and this one with (Gingras) is definitely one of them.â
Topping Fridayâs card are the nightâs co-main events, and one of them is an eight-round championship fight between Providence resident and Manfredoâs Gym product Shelito Vincent and South Carolina native Angel Gladney for the vacant Womenâs International Boxing Association (WIBA) International bantamweight title.
Vincent, a native of New London, Conn. who is undefeated and untested at 8-0 (all of her victories via unanimous decisions), was supposed to take on former world title contender Christina Ruiz of San Antonio, Texas, but Ruiz pulled out of the fight with a hand injury.
Taking Ruizâs place is the hard-hitting Gladney, who is 8-7-1 (6 KOs), but coming off an impressive victory over bantamweight prospect Kelan Robey.
Biosse, a Providence native who runs a youth boxing program at the Woonsocket Boxing Gym and has several ties to the area, will appear in the other co-feature and take his 14-2-1 (7 KOs) mark into an eight-round super middleweight fight against Philadelphiaâs Latif Mundy (10-5, 4 KOs).
Biosse, who went 3-0 and captured the New England super middleweight title in 2012, is anxious to return to the ring and redeem himself with a strong performance after suffering a shocking eight-round TKO defeat in his last fight on Jan. 19 at Mohegan Sun to Marcus Upshaw of Jacksonville, Fla.
The region will also be represented on the undercard by Pawtucket middleweight Thomas Falowo (9-1, 7 KOs), who is also representing Manfredoâs Gym and awaiting one of the toughest tests of his career in a six-round battle against power-punching Tylon Burris (5-0, 3 KOs) of Hartford, Conn.
Falowo, who will be making his seventh straight appearance at Twin River, has been on fire since his controversial split-decision loss to Texas native Samuel Clarkson last May 24. Heâs won his last three fights via TKOs, and in his last fight on March 15, he battered Puerto Rico native Julio Garcia for five rounds before Garcia quit on the stool.
Tickets for the show are priced at $41, $76, and $126 and can be purchased by contacting CES at 724-2253/2254, going online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, or visiting Twin Riverâs Players Club booth or any TicketMaster location. The doors open at 6 p.m., and the first bout is scheduled for 7.