UNCASVILLE, Conn. — It was like old times for Providence middleweight Peter Manfredo Jr. and Connecticut featherweight Matt Remilllard, as the local favorites returned to the scene of many of their early triumphs to notch wins in a pair of NABF title fights at the Mohegan Sun Arena Friday night. Manfredo captured a one-sided decision from Minnesota journeyman Matt Vanda to with the organization's vacant middleweight title, while Remillard blew out rival Rafael Lora to retain its featherweight belt.
Although Manfredo and Remillard had performed on Mohegan tribal lands several times in the past, Friday's card was the first time they had done so under the aegis of Chet Koerner, the Las Vegas-based promoter who had spirited the two New England fan favorites away from Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports.
Fighting at 160 for the first time since a 2005 loss to Sergio Mora in a Tournament of Contenders card in Las Vegas, Manfredo received a nice ovation from the crowd. Vanda, who styles himself “The Predator,” entered the ring wearing a grotesque mask that looked like one of Vinny Pazienza's hand-me-downs.
Manfredo had been using Vanda for target practice since the opening bell when he eventually floored him with a left hook to the body late in the sixth. Altough Vanda as is his won't tried to rally over the last two rounds, Manfredo was too far ahead to catch and not tired enough to succumb, and prevailed on the scorecards of all three judges — 99-90 (Don Trella) and 100-89 (Steve Weisfeld and John McKaie) as he improved his overall 34-6. Vanda, who has still been stopped just once in 52 pro fights, preserved that claim despite falling to 42-10.
Remillard was awarded a third-round TKO when Rafael Lora quit on his stool after nine minutes of fighting, allowing the Manchester (Conn.) featherweight to retain his NABF title. Lora had started like a ball of fire, winning the first on all three scorecards (as well as TSS'), but Remillard had surged ahead to dominate each of the next two, and in the third had not only separated the Dominican challenger from his mouthpiece with a hard left, but nearly caved in his ribs with a body shot. Lora was shaking his head as he returned to his corner, and it seemed apparent that any taste for fighting had been beaten out of him. The blue corner ran up the white flag well before the bell that might have signaled the fourth. Lora was transported to a local hospital to be examined for what Remillard, who may have been in a position to know, said were likely broken ribs.
The bout had been a rematch of a somewhat controversial meeting between the two last September in South Windsor (Conn.). In that one Lora, who was like Remillard undefeated at the time, claimed to have been the victim of a head-butt (one that was neither visible to the referee or discernible to officials who subsequently viewed the videotape. Lora, ignoring the time-honored boxers' caution “protect yourself at all times,” turned his back in complaint, only to be cold-cocked by Remillard as he walked away. It went into the books as a 4th-round TKO, and although Lora's handlers demanded a mandated rematch, after reviewing tapes of the bout, the NABF declined to order one. Remillard and his promoters subsequently agreed to a second meeting anyway. One suspects that Lora (11-2) won't be looking for a third fight. It was Remillard's 21st win in as many pro fights, an even dozen of them inside the distance.
After a strong beginning, Hartford welterweight Addie Irizarry was upended by a straight left fired by her gangly southpaw opponent Rachel Clark late in the fourth. Although Irizarry was more surprised than hurt, that single punch, and the resultant knockdown, proved pivotal, since in its absence the result would have been a well-deserved draw. Instead the two-point round produced scores of 58-55 (Weisfeld) and 57-56 (McKaie) for the North Carolinian, while Irizarry carried that of Peter Harry by a 57-56 margin. Irizarry fell to 6-4 with the split decision loss, while Clark is now 5-3-1.
Chip Perez, the 23 year-old lightweight from Hartford, remained unbeaten at 3-0, but he certainly didn't have an easy night of it. Perez engaged in a four-round, toe-to-toe slugfest with Puerto Rican foe Luis Quezeda (1-2) and while he got the worst of it at times, Perez did enough to prevail 39-37 on the cards of Harry and Tony Paolillo and pulled out a majority decision. McKaie's 38-38 score seemed marginally fairer.
Detroit super-middle J'Leon Love experienced a short but satisfying pro debut, requiring just a minute and a half to dispatch his New Orleans opponent Vince Burkhalter (0-3). Less than a minute into the bout Love floored Burkhalter with a right hand, and while he got up and briefly battled back, it didn't take Love long to reclaim the upper hand. When a short right hook put him down again Burkhalter took Benji Esteves' count on his knees and was counted out at 1:33 of the first.
Canadian lightweight Arash Usmanee was awarded a technical decision over Cuban-born Jorge Ruiz when Ruiz was forced to retire after a fifth-round clash of heads produced a gash to his scalp. The issue went tot he scorecards, where DeGabriel (50-45), Harry (49-45) and Trella (48-47) all had Usmanee (5-0) ahead. Ruiz is now 7-11-2.
In the walk-out bout, Florida-based welterweight Joseph Elegele (3-0) knocked out Oklahoman Chris Russel (1-1) with a left to the body. Joe Cusano reached the 10-count at 1:26 of the first, with Russel still writhing on the floor.
The TKO show was the first of the year for the Connecticut casino, which also announced that its first two title fights of 2010 will take place on March 6 when Don King returns to Uncasville for an HBO card topped by a 140-pound title unification bout matching WBC champion Devon Alexander against Juan Urango, who holds the IBF version of the title.
MOHEGAN SUN ARENA
January 29, 2010
MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Peter Manfredo Jr., 159 3/4, Providence, R.I. dec. Matt Vanda, 159 3/4, St. Paul, Minn. (10) (Wins vacant NABF title)
FEATHERWEIGHTS: Matt Remillard, 124 3/4, Manchester, Conn. DKO'd Rafael Lora, 125 3/4, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic (3) (Retains NABF title)
SUPER MIDDLES: J'Leon Love, 165 1/3, Detroit, Mich. KO's Vince Burkhalter, 163 1/4, New Orleans (1)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Rachel Clark, 137 344, Fayetteville, N.C. dec. Adelita Irizarry, 143 1/2, Hartford, Conn.(6)
Joseph Elegele, 144, Melbourne, Fla. KO'd Chris Russel, 142, Shadduck, Okla. (1)
LIGHTWEIGHTS: Arash Usmanee, 130 1/4, Red Deer, Alberta TD over Jorge Ruiz, 136, Santa Clara, Cuba (5)
Chip Perez, 132, Hartford, Conn. dec. Luis Quezada, 131 1/4, Caguas, Puerto Rico (4)