PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The brief with which Peter Manfredo Jr. was charged seemed straightforward enough: If he wanted to secure a lucrative bout against Roy Jones Jr., he not only needed to beat his neighborhood archrival Joey Spina, but do it impressively.
But on this night, Manfredo may have been too impressive for his own good. After watching his seven-minute annihilation of the previously undefeated Spina Saturday night, Roy could be forgiven if he decided to look for a different Junior to fight in January.
In what may have been the most impressive performance of his career, Manfredo (26-3) utterly destroyed Spina in the main event of Jimmy Burchfield’s aptly-named “Put up or Shut up” Contender-themed card at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
Although both Providence fighters were performing for a hometown crowd, the Manfredo faction, representing Federal Hill, appeared to significantly outnumber the pro-Spina faction from Silver Lake in Saturday’s half-a-house audience at the old Providence Civic Center.
While it was in the end a decisive victory for Manfredo, Spina gave nearly as good as he got over the first two action-packed rounds of the scheduled 12-rounder.
Spina, in fact, won the first on the cards of two judges (as well as our own), largely as the result of an assault late in the stanza, when he ripped into Manfredo with a hard left hook that sent him backing into a neutral corner, where he landed a good left-right combination before the bell.
Both boxers ratcheted up the energy level in the second. Although Manfredo was able to stun Spina twice with right-hand leads, Spina came back to rock his foe with a solid left hook. Later in the round, though, Manfredo landed a left-right combination that buckled Spina’s knees and had him holding on for dear life, and then caught him with a left hook just before the bell as well.
In the next minute of combat Manfredo rendered the judges’ opinions immaterial in any case. A lot of bad blood and trash-talking, most of it emanating from Spina, had preceded this encounter, and Manfredo had calmly forecast that he would demonstrate that Spina “isn’t in my league.”
Few would argue that proposition now. Early in the third, Manfredo staggered Spina with a right-hand lead to the head, and then another. All told, he did it five times in less than sixty seconds, and with the last of the straight rights he hit Spina so hard that he would have landed in the fourth row of spectators had the ring ropes not gotten in the way.
Using the ropes for support, Spina agonizingly pulled himself to his feet, but even as referee Charlie Dwyer eyed him cautiously, trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad was climbing up the steps to rescue his fighter by firing a white towel into the ring. A minute and one second had elapsed in the third when Dwyer officially waved the fight to a conclusion.
“I saw the towel,” said Dwyer, “but I was going to stop it anyway. [Spina] was pretty disoriented.”
The defeat was the first for the self-proclaimed “K.O. Kid,” now 19-1-1, and his fans fell silent as Manfredo’s celebrated all around the building.
“I told you, I’m on a different level than he is,” said Manfredo. “I honestly never wanted to take this fight. I didn’t want to hurt anybody from Rhode Island, but he kept shooting off his mouth.
“I guess [Spina] got his 15 minute of fame and he got his money, but he took the beating of his life.”
“I’m fine,” said Spina once he revived. “I just didn’t do what I wanted to do, which was to knock him out.”
Spina later acknowledged having injured his right thumb in the hectic second round.
Roach wasn’t quite ready to describe it as man-against-boy, but the Massachusetts-born trainer knew all along he had the best horse in a two-horse race.
“Spina’s strong, that’s all,” said Roach. “And Peter is improving tremendously. He’s really benefited from the sparring he’s gotten out in California.”
Roach had drawn up the game play, but he admitted that the one-handed attack with which his fighter so decisively settled matters hadn’t been part of it.
“We didn’t know Spina would be such a sucker for the right hand,” chuckled the trainer.
“You know,” added Roach, “feinting has become a lost art, but if you noticed, that’s what Peter was doing to set up those right hands. He’d feint with the left, Joey would go for it, and Peter would smack him right in the face with the right.”
After seven rounds of what sometimes appeared to be some arcane Greco-Roman rumble, Oklahoma super-middle Allan Green floored Jerson Ravelo twice in the last round to register an 8th-round TKO.
Although Green and Ravelo had engaged in some pre-fight woofing that occasionally rivaled Manfredo’s and Spina’s, once the bell rang each seemed unnecessarily wary of the other. For the most part, Green and Ravelo seemed to land their best punches while locked in the grappling embraces that characterized much of the bout.
Then in the eighth, Green caught Ravelo with a solid right uppercut, stopping him in his tracks and making him an easy target for the left hook that put him on his backside.
When action resumed, Green landed a left-right combination to knock his foe down again. Although the bout was allowed to continue, Green connected with a savage right that nearly tore Ravelo’s head off. Whether he might have gone down from the punch remains unlearned, because as he lurched sideways, referee Joe Lupino swept in and caught Ravelo, ending the bout at 2:24 of the round.
“I’d give myself about a ‘C’ for this one,” said Green after the largely-inartistic performance. “I wasn’t doing what my coach and trainers were telling me to do.”
Green said he planned to “take the rest of the year of. Hopefully something big will be coming.”
Green, now 23-0, led by scores of 69-64 (twice) and 68-65 after seven rounds. (Our scorecard had it marginally closer at 67-66.) Ravelo fell to 18-1.
Pawtucket featherweight Jose Sanchez made an impressive pro debut, flooring Detroit southpaw Rasool Shakoor (0-2) three times en route to a 4th-round TKO. Sanchez, trained by Peter Manfredo Sr., had Shakoor down once in the third and again in the fourth before closing the show with a big right hand that led Dwyer to wave the fight off without a count at 2:20 of the round.
The opening act of the evening saw Pawtucket lightweight Eddie Soto run his unbeaten record to 6-0 by outpointing Brockton’s Felisberto (The Joker) Fernandes (4-5). Although all three judges (Clark Sammartino, Wayne Lima, and Scuncio) all scored it 40-35 (as did the Sweet Science), it wasn’t quite a runaway. The Joker didn’t mount any semblance of an offense until far too late, but was on his way to winning the final round when he walked into a Soto right hand seconds before the fight would have ended. Fernandes got up, and was still taking Lupino’s mandatory 8-count when the bell rang.
The walk-out bout saw junior welterweight Hank Lundy (3-0) obliterate Alabaman Mike Williams (3-3) in less than a minute and a half, scoring a TKO at 1:12 of the first.
Crowd-pleasing ‘Contender’ alum Alfonso Gomez, who was to have met another Mexican-born middleweight, Juan Pablo Montes de Oca, on the Providence show, was present at The Dunk, but not in action, after being mysteriously pulled from the card. Word has it that The Fonz was quietly suspended by the California commission as the result a positive test for marijuana following his 8th-round TKO of Carson Jones in Sacramento back in August.
Fellow ‘Contender’ idol Sergio Mora, also at ringside, was the object of taunts from the cheap seats during the undercard. The Manfredo loyalists in the audience, displeased by their man’s back-to-back losses to The Snake in made-for-TV fights last year, took up a chant or “Mora Sucks!” and mockingly hooted “Sergio!” (Mora acknowledged the derision by waving at the Manfredo supporters, bringing a loud chorus of boos.)
Both Jones and WBO/IBF champion Joe Calzhage had Manfredo on their short list of prospective opponents going into Saturday’s fight, but it is not at all clear either would want to fight him now.
On the same night Manfredo demolished the previously undefeated Spina in Rhode Island, Calzaghe, in England, struggled to a 12-round decision over Sakio Bika, a handpicked opponent so overmatched he’d probably have trouble with Spina. And Jones? The fight – if it happen – is tentatively penciled in for January 20 at The Dunk.
“Sure, we’ll fight Roy. Who is that Prince guy he fought last time?” asked Roach. “I’d never heard of the guy till Roy fought him. If RJ wants to come to Providence, bring him on!”
“But why,” ESPN’s Joe Tessitore wondered, quite properly, of Manfredo, “would anyone want to come to Providence to fight you?”
PUT UP OR SHUT UP
DUNKIN DONUTS CENTER
OCTOBER 14, 2006
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Peter Manfredo Jr., 167, Pawtucket, RI TKO’d Joey Spina, 168, Providence, RI (3)
Allan Green, 167½, Tulsa, Okla. TKO’d Jerson Ravelo, 165½, San Cristobal, D.R. (8)
JUNIOR WELTERS: Hank Lundy,138½, Philadelphia, Pa. TKO’d Mike Williams, 131, Tuscaloosa, Ala. (1)
LIGHTWEIGHTS: Eddie Soto 1336, Pawtucket dec. Felisberto Fernandes, 134½, Brockton, Mass. (4)
FEATHERWEIGHTS: Jose Sanchez, 126, Pawtucket TKO’d Rasool Shakoor, 126¼, Detroit, Mich. (4)