PROVIDENCE -- It’s been two years since Peter Manfredo Jr. last fought in Rhode Island, but for the Manfredo’s Gym world middleweight champion, it seems like a lifetime ago.
The last time Manfredo stepped into the ring in this state, he endured one of the worst defeats of his pro career -- a third-round TKO loss to Sakio Bika for the IBO (International Boxing Organization) super middleweight title at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Since that setback, Manfredo made the move to the middleweight ranks, and over the next two years, put together a four-match win streak that included a 10th-round TKO of Angel Hernandez on May 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena that earned him the IBO middleweight championship.
Those last two years have also seen Manfredo hit the road and fight over the border in Montreal and in the obscurity of Cockeysville, Va. But on Nov. 12, he will be coming back to R.I. and headlining CES’s (Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.) “Homecoming King” card at the Twin River Event Center.
“I’m very happy to be back,” Manfredo said after Tuesday afternoon’s press conference outside Andino’s Restaurant on Federal Hill. “I’m going to get to put on a show for the fans as a world champion -- which they always wanted here in Rhode Island -- and I’m happy to be able to bring that to them.”
Manfredo (35-6, 19 KOs) will lace up his gloves for a non-title bout against hard-hitting Jhon Berrio of Monteira, Colombia in the 10-round main event. Berrio has a 15-7 (11 KOs) mark and was his country’s junior middleweight champion two years ago.
Berrio’s title comes during a rough stretch that has seen him lose three of his last five fights (and seven of his last 11), but Manfredo is ignoring his recent history and anticipating a tough battle from his South American foe.
“(Trainer Peter Manfredo Sr.) says he’s pretty decent,” said Manfredo. “He’s got 15 wins and 11 of them by knockout, so he can punch. And he’s coming here to win. When you’re a champion, there’s always going to be somebody that wants to take that from you, and this guy wants to do that.”
Life hasn’t changed much for Manfredo since his night to remember in May. Instead of spending his summer celebrating his title with big championship parties throughout Rhode Island, “The Pride of Providence” chose to return to the gym and keep his private life on the down low.
“I’m the same person, just with a belt,” he admitted. “I’m a family man, but boxing kind of takes a lot of that time away from me because I’m always in the gym. But I like to stay home with my wife and kids and I take them out once a week. It’s what I do and what I enjoy.”
Manfredo recently observed the 10th anniversary of his pro debut -- a four-round unanimous decision triumph over junior middleweight Steve Garrett on Sept. 22, 2000 at Rhodes of the Pawtuxet in Cranston -- and he will turn 30 the day after Thanksgiving. That made him ponder his future in boxing.
“I don’t know how many more years I’m going to do this or how many more times I want to fight, but I’m doing good right now and I just want to keep it going,” he said. “I want to go for maybe one more world title, but right now, I just want to take it one fight at a time.”
While this will be the 42nd career fight for the veteran middleweight, one of his young stablemates at Manfredo’s Gym will be making his pro debut, as Pawtucket’s Thomas Falowo will fight Haitian fighter Odias Dumez (2-4, 1 KO) in a four-round middleweight bout on the undercard.
“It feels great,” said Falowo, who is 21 and a Blackstone Academy graduate who also took part in football and track and field at Shea High. “I’ve been training for a while now and I’ve had a good amount of amateur fights, and now I’m finally ready to take the next step.”
Falowo recently put the finishing touches on a brilliant amateur career that saw him recently take second in the New England Golden Gloves and USA Boxing New England tournaments.
“I had a very good amateur career, but it feels good to finally get the chance to turn pro,” noted Falowo. “(Manfredo Sr.) worked hard with me and built me up to get to this point, and I’m looking forward to my fight.”