BY GEORGE KIMBALLPROVIDENCE, R.I. – Every matchmaker’s dream is to put together a Fight of the Year, but having done so, CES’ Ted Panagiotis is unlikely to be basking in much glory around the house in the coming weeks. Once Jaime Clampitt’s right paw heals again, she may use it to smack her husband around the family home for having put her in with Missy Fiorentino.

Raising female boxing to a new art form, Fiorentino was a human buzzsaw, fearlessly bulling her way inside to throw lighting-quick and precise combinations as she wrested the IBWF lightweight title from Clampitt in the main event of Jimmy Burchfield’s Pro/Am card at the Rhode Island Convention Center Thursday night.

Clampitt, a Rhode Island-based Canadian, and Fiorentino, from nearby Cranston, had been away from one another this long not only because they toiled for the same promoter, but because they were comfortably separated by a couple of weight divisions. With Fiorentino moving up and Clampitt moving down on the scale, the decision was taken to throw them in together at 135 pounds and let the Best Girl Win.

Both had earlier won IWBF titles in the same arena earlier in their careers: Three years ago Clampitt beat Eliza Olson to win the vacant 140-pound belt, only to lose it to England’s Jane Couch in her first defense, at Foxwoods. Last August she won the vacant lightweight title, stopping Shelby Walker in four, but had been out of action since with a hand injury.

Fiorentino, also promoted by Burchfield’s CES but trained by Peter Manfredo Sr., dropped a hotly disputed decision to Emiko Raika in a 2004 fight in Kyoto for the vacant featherweight title, but last year gained the 126-pound title when she defeated Esther Schouten at the Convention Center.

At the outset Clampitt boxed superbly, and made her 3¾ pound weight advantage seem even greater. Even in the first couple of rounds Fiorentino was probably throwing, and landing, more punches, but Clampitt seemed stronger (“She is,” explained Manfredo) and her blows more damaging.

But in the third Fiorentino was able to take charge, hurling herself inside Clampitt’s defenses. Clampitt may well have reinjured her right hand around this point as well, but in any case, once Fiorentio got on the inside and started winging all those multiple-punch combinations, Clampitt had no ready answer but to keep swinging. Thus did it become a fight of Missy Fiorentino’s making.

No, she wasn’t trying to turn it into a Pier Six brawl, she said later, “but we did want to keep the pressure on her.”

Manfredo credited the experience Fiorentino picked up in California last month when she and Providence cruiserweight Matt Godfrey spent two and a half weeks sparring with the animals in Freddy Roach’s Wild Card Gym.

“Missy sparred every day, with five or six different girls, most of them 150-160 pounders,” reported Manfredo. “

The 29-year-old Fiorentino, a college graduate, talks like a librarian but fights like a street mugger. She was mildly surprised to find Clampitt as willing as she was to allow the contest to turn into the sort of slugfest it did, since it played right into Missy’s hands.

Once she got the upper hand, said Fiorentino, “the important thing was for me to stay calm. When I get to excited sometimes I get wild and sloppy.”

Although Clampitt staged a mini-rally in the final round, the verdict was close but unanimous: Ed Scunzio and Dr. Clark Sammartino had it 96-94, Walter Stone 97-94, all for Fiorentino. The Sweet Science had Fiorentino winning 97-94.

The new champion extended her record to 14-1, while Clampitt fell to 16-4-1.

A disconsolate Clampitt remained in her dressing room afterward, but when trainer Chuck Sullivan met with the press afterward he was asked what Fiorentino-Clampitt bout had done for women’s boxing.

“You saw the fight,” he replied. “There were what, ten fights on tonight’s show? What was the best fight?”

No argument about that. The ladies put on a better show than the 18 men who performed on the card could muster. It was not only the best fight of the night, it may well have been the best women’s bout of the year.

Although there was no live television, the fight will be shown via tape-delay on “A Ring of their Own,” so there will be an opportunity to see what you missed. We’d be interested in having CompuBox’ Bob Connobio submit this one to an ex post facto punch count. Unless we miss our guess, Fiorentino had to have set some kind of record for punches thrown in ten two-minute rounds.

While his performance hardly measured up to Fiorentino’s (or, for that matter, Clampitt’s), had Jason Estrada had fought as well in Athens as he did against Robert Wiggins in Thursday night’s co-feature he might have come back with an Olympic medal.

Despite his 245-pound frame, Estrada is never going to be confused with a big puncher (he has managed just one kayo in six pro bouts), but against crosstown rival Wiggins he was the bigger, stronger – and faster fighter, dominating throughout to score a unanimous decision.

All three judges scored it 100-90. The Sweet Science card had it 99-91, awarding Wiggins the sixth.

And Estrada was, for once, relentless, sticking Wiggins with his flicking jab and tagging him with right uppercuts and right hands to the body all night long.

Given Wiggins’ reputation as a spoiler, some might have been surprised at the ease with which Estrada handled his foe, but Jason wasn’t one of them.

Going back to early in his amateur career, Estrada revealed that he and Wiggins had sparred “dozens,” and possibly hundreds, of rounds together, and after the first few such meetings the then-teenaged Estrada reckoned he had had the upper hand.

“He was probably quicker back then,” said Estrada of the 37-year-old Wiggins. “He’s starting to get a little old now. That happens. And I’m not sure he’s as, you know, determined as he used to be.”

Four losses in five fights will do that to you.

The 2002 US superheavyweight representative went to 6-0 as a pro with the win, while the veteran Wiggins dropped to 20-7-1 – but six of the losses have come in his last nine fights.

Ossie Duran and Marcos Primera may be a pair of wily veterans who have both seen better days, but Primera is clearly the more shopworn of the two. Duran, the Ghana-born, British-raised former Commonwealth champion, pretty much had his way with the Venezuelan, using him for target practice as he repeatedly beat Primero to the punch. All three judges scored it 60-54 for Duran, as did The Sweet Science.

Duran, Burchfield’s latest signee, improved to 21-6-1 in his first bout under the CES aegis, Primera 19-14-2.

Providence super-middleweight Bobo Starnino easily outpointed his Oklahoma opponent Eddie O’Neil to run his record to 7-1-1. Bobo (Not to be confused with Boo Boo, who fought earlier) scored a shutout, winning 40-36 on all three cards. O’Neill is now 8-12-1.

In earlier action, Pawtucket (RI) welterweight Eddie Soto improved to 5-0 by stopping his overmatched New Jersey opponent, Montez Wilson (0-4). With Wilson offering little in the way of resistance, referee Ricky Gonzales halted the bout at 2:20 of the third.

Thank God for small favors. Gonzales’ intervention caused Soto-Wilson to be the only one of ten bouts on the card not to go the distance.

The unique format saw the five-bout professional card preceded by five amateur bouts. This oil-and-water concept is against the regulations in most states – and used to be in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Racing and Athletic Commission made an exception for Burchfield, who demonstrated his gratitude by allotting the five-member commission at least twenty ringside positions, thus relegating the working press to a more remote section among the paying customers.

The piece de resistance of the amateur bill saw 2006 National Golden Gloves champion Demetrius (Boo-Boo) Andrade defeat One Shot Thomas of New York in their light middleweight bout. (And you thought USA Boxing regulations prohibited the use of nicknames? They do. One Shot’s real name is One Shot.

Hard-hitting middleweight Mark DeLuca Jr. the son former Massachusetts (and Duxbury) police chief Mark (Bazooka) DeLuca, earned the nod over Newton’s Nathan Busa in their four-rounder, while light welterweight Jesus Cairo of Pawtucket decisioned Diego Pereira of Providence.

In a pair of three-rounders, light flyweight Hector Colon, a five-time Junior Olympic champion from Providence, decisioned his South Boston opponent, Alex Frechette, while in a 90-pound bout matching a pair of 13-year-olds, Devon Shelton of Manfredo’s Gym outpointed Bostonian Andrew Lee.

LET IT RIDE (Pro/Am)
RHODE ISLAND CIVIC CENTER
PROVIDENCE, RI
MAY 18, 2006

PROFESSIONALS:

LIGHTWEIGHTS: Missy Fiorentino, 131, Cranston, RI dec. Jaime Clampitt, 134¾, Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan (10) (Wins IWBF title)

HEAVYWEIGHTS: Jason Estrada, 245, Providence, RI dec., Robert Wiggins, 221, East Providence, RI (10)

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Richard (Bobo) Starnino, 165, Providence, RI dec. Eddie O’Neal, 169, Lawton, Okla., (4)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Ossie Duran, 152½, Accra, Ghana dec. Marcos Primera, 153, Puerto Cabello, Venezuela (6)

WELTERWEIGHTS: Eddie Soto, 141, Pawtucket, RI TKO’d Montez Wilson, 146, Camden, NJ (3)

AMATEURS:
(4 X 2-minute rounds)

165 Lbs: Marc DeLuca, Duxbury, Mass. dec. Nathan Busa, Newton, Mass.
152 Lbs: Demetrius Andrede, Warwick, RI, dec. One Shot Thomas, Brooklyn, NY
141 Lbs: Jesus Cairo, Pawtucket, RI dec. Diego Pereira, Providence, RI

(3 X 2-minute rounds)
105 Lbs: Hector Colon, Providence, RI dec. Alex French, South Boston, Mass.
90 Lbs: Devon Shelton, Providence, RI dec. Andrew Lee, South Boston, Mass.