LINCOLN — The last time local fight fans saw Thomas Falowo in action, they were in an uproar over the split decision victory awarded to his opponent, Samuel Clarkson of Cedar Hill, Texas.
In that middleweight fight back on May 24 at Twin River, Falowo not only ruled four of the six rounds, but he also delivered a first-round knockdown.
And while Clarkson ended the night looking like he’d tussled in a 12-round slugfest, Falowo had barely a scratch on him.
Nevertheless, while one of the judges declared Falowo a 58-55 victor, the other two gave Clarkson the bout by 57-56 scores, and that angered Falowo, his corner, and his fans. The defeat was the first in the Pawtucket fighter’s promising career, and it left him bitter and disappointed for weeks.
But time heals all wounds, and Falowo is looking to turn the page on that fight and jump back on the winning track. And he’ll get a chance to do so tonight when he returns to the ring on the undercard of Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.’s “Built To Last” show at the Twin River Event Center.
“(The loss) does still bother me, but there’s really nothing I can do to change the loss on my record,” Falowo said on Tuesday afternoon. “All I can do is win this week’s fight and keep on getting better after that.”
Falowo (6-1, 4 KOs) will take on another Texas middleweight in Dallas resident Rahman Yusubov (8-8, 6 KOs) in a spirited six-round affair that promises to be one of the night’s must-see attractions.
Yusubov, a native of the country of Azerbaijan, will be seeking his first win in nearly two years and looking to halt a nasty six-fight losing streak. But the six boxers who defeated Yusubov had a combined record of 100-9-4, and four of them were unbeaten.
One of those defeats came last Oct. 7 in Twin River, when Yusubov was the victim of a fifth-round stoppage to Chris Chatman of Chicago, and Falowo, who fought earlier in the show, got to catch a glimpse of that fight.
“He only fights top-notch fighters, so he’s not afraid to fight anyone,” Falowo said of his opponent. “He’s an aggressive fighter who’s sturdy and likes to come forward, and he’s got a little pop and a big left hook.”
Yusubov also has something that Falowo doesn’t have – a lack of height. While Falowo stands tall at 6-foot-1, Yusubov is only 5-7½, and to prepare for this fight, Falowo spent a great deal of time sparring with two of his shorter Manfredo’s Gym stablemates, 5-foot-7 junior welterweight Diego Pereira and 5-foot-6 junior lightweight Toka Khan-Clary.
Another fight that is expected to draw lots of attention is the six-round intrastate grudge match between super middleweights Reynaldo Rodriguez (6-4-1, 3 KOs) of Woonsocket and Keith Kozlin (6-3-1, 4 KOs) of West Warwick, who battled to a four-round draw last July 29 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Kozlin was actually a 40-36 winner on one of the judges’ cards, while the other two gave the bout 38-38 scores. The fight also saw each boxer record a first-round knockdown and firmly believe that they should have came away with the victory.
“With two extra rounds the first time around, I would have at least won or knocked him out. I need those rounds,” Rodriguez said in a press release. “I’m definitely in way better shape this time. I’m going to win, and with the way I’m training, I don’t think it will even go six rounds.
“It was a good fight, and he’s a good fighter; I have nothing bad to say about him,” added Rodriguez. “Hopefully, this fight will be better and I’ll win this time, but, yeah, I think I won the first one. I put more pressure on him in the last 10 to 20 seconds of each round. I basically outboxed him. I thought I won, but they called it a draw.”
“(Rodriguez) definitely did not win that fight,” Kozlin remarked in a press release. “I got robbed real bad. The one upside he had was a flash knockdown, and then I knocked him down. I outworked him. He was running a lot, so I cut the ring off. I was the aggressor. All in all, it was a good fight, but I overlooked him. I won’t make that mistake again.”
Both fighters could use this ‘W’ not just to settle the score, but to return to their winning ways. Rodriguez’s last two fights were knockout losses in Washington, D.C. last Dec. 10 and California this past March, and Kozlin is 1-3-1 in his last five fights.
Two Providence fighters with strong ties to the Pawtucket area will headline the show, as New England super middleweight champion Vladine Biosse (13-1-1, 6 KOs) will fight in the eight-round main event and cruiserweight Matt Godfrey (20-3, 10 KOs) will take part in the six-round co-feature.
For Godfrey, who will battle Oltmans (10-3, 7 KOs) of Bartonsville, Pa., this fight will be a happy homecoming for him and his first in Rhode Island in nearly five years, as well as his first bout in New England in almost four.
It will also be Godfrey’s first fight in 13 months since he suffered a 10-round unanimous-decision loss to unbeaten Lateef Kayode in Santa Ynez, Calif. for the North American Boxing Association (NABA) and North American Boxing Federation (NABF) titles that Godfrey both held earlier in his career.
Before that defeat, Godfrey saw his bid for a world championship come up short on Aug. 21, 2010 when he suffered a fifth-round knockout to Marco Huck in Germany for Huck’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) belt.
Biosse, who is two months removed from his big eight-round unanimous-decision victory over crosstown rival Joey “The K.O Kid” Spina, will seek his third victory of 2012 when he fights Saskatchewan, Canada native Mike Walchuk (9-5, 2 KOs).
Two other Rhode Island fighters, Warwick middleweight Benny Costantino (7-1, 4 KOs) and Providence weltweweight Jansy Rivera, who will make his pro debut, will also battle in separate four-round bouts.
A fight to also keep an eye on is the four-round light heavyweight duel of unbeatens between Queens, N.Y. prospect Donte Wiggins (1-0, 1 KO) and Kevin Cobbs (4-0, 1 KO) of Burlington, Vt.
At Thursday’s press conference before the weigh-in, Wiggins doled out a lot of trash talk, and in a press release, said, “You’ve got some great fighters up here, and then you’ve got this intermission fighter. This is the guy they put in the ring when they want dudes to get up and go to the bathroom.”
“He’s not getting a ‘W,’ he’s not beating me, and he’s not enjoying his weekend. He’s going to end up in [the hospital] with cable TV and everything. You can’t run anymore. I’m here now. You’re on Facebook talking about how you’re a gorilla, and how you’re a ‘bully.’ I’m knocking him out in the first round.
“When it’s over, CES will take back his contract and rip the stitching off his shorts.”
Cobbs, meanwhile, preferred to let his boxing do his talking for him.
Only $40 tickets are available for the show and can be purchased 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 through any TicketMaster location.
The doors open at 6 p.m. and the first bout is slated for 7. Twin River has also waived its 18+ rule for the show, and anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and enter through the West entrance.