WORCESTER — When boxing last laid eyes on Matt Remillard in a professional prize ring, the year was 2011. The then undefeated Connecticut featherweight prospect was on HBO Boxing After Dark suffering his first loss via corner stoppage to future world champion Mikey Garcia after ten predominately one-sided rounds. Remillard was knocked down three times before the bout was halted. For Garcia, the victory was a platform to bigger and better things. For Remillard, it’s been a lengthy road back to boxing on April Fools Day 2017. Remarkably, it came on the twelfth anniversary of his professional debut on April 1, 2005 in New Haven, CT.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Remillard.
In November of 2011, Remillard was sentenced to five years in a Connecticut prison for the controversial 2010 assault of a local man named Jordan Evans; their confrontation having had something to do with a mutual female acquaintance. And a baseball bat. But I’m not here to judge the man; Remillard paid his debt to society in full. Unlike the Thai convicts in the new SHOWTIME documentary Prison Fighters, Remillard, the former client of judicious boxing manager Jackie Kallen, did no boxing while incarcerated, just hard time. The question of how much “Sharp Shooter” Remillard does or does not have left as a boxer is a matter yet to be decided.
“Matt just has to sharpen his game after being off so long,” the 70-year-old Kallen (best known for managing James Toney) said of a fighting friend she still holds great affection for. “Hopefully his basic skills are still there,” she said. “Now he’s back and I’m really anxious to see how he does. I’m looking forward to him making a good comeback because he can fight. He’s a good fighter, a good young man.”
Free and medically cleared to continue his once promising career, Remillard, now 30, co-headlined Saturday’s Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE) card at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts. Remillard scored an entertaining eight round unanimous decision over Augustine Mauras to make good on his comeback. More on that later.
The inaugural RPE show, put on last January 19 by Worcester based promoter José Antonio Rivera, was held before a sellout crowd of approximately 2,100 local fans. It wasn’t a bad start for Rivera, the former WBA welterweight and junior middleweight champion. Held on the day before Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration in D.C., the Thursday night RPE main event featured 2015 New England Golden Gloves featherweight champ Irvin Gonzalez in his fifth pro fight against a bad Mexican hombre with a below .500 record. Rivera knows that if he wants to grow as a boxing promoter and sell more than 2,100 tickets, he’ll need stronger fights, better fighters, and a much bigger venue.
“I appreciate the support we received for our shows,” said Rivera. According to the promoter, his next RPE show is scheduled for Saturday June 10 at the 12,000 seat DCU Center in downtown Worcester. It will be a big step up from the Palladium. But who’ll headline? Might hometown standout Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez appear on the bill? Certainly not if the power punching light heavyweight is instead fighting on a DiBella Entertainment promoted PBC summer show at Foxwoods Casino.
Time will tell if Rivera can lure Rodriguez home for his first backyard bout in Worcester since 2011 when the Dominican Republican stopped Iraq War veteran Chris Traietti with a brutal body shot at nearby Mechanics Hall. Rivera’s matchmaking son AJ told TSS that Lou DiBella has approved the potential DCU Center homecoming for Rodriquez. Inactive for nearly a year, Rodriguez will be coming off a knockout loss to Thomas Williams Jr. whenever and wherever “La Bomba” returns to the ring.
Because of the close proximity to the thirtieth anniversary of Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Sugar Ray Leonard on April 6, it’s worth noting here that when Sugar Ray came back in 1984, it was at the DCU Center (then called the Worcester Centrum) against journeyman Kevin Howard. Leonard was dropped onto the seat of his pants for the first time in his career before rallying to stop Howard in nine rounds. Leonard was not seen in the ring again for three years, reappearing in 1987 for the Hagler upset.
Now re-enter the comebacking Matt Remillard, a popular fighter with a following but also one without a manager or a promoter of record. The freshly released pugilist needed a fighting payday and Rivera needed a name fighter to boost ticket sales. The presently unsigned boxer and the currently unproven promoter don’t mind using each other to advance their respective aims. “We aren’t signing fighters,” explained Rivera regarding his plan as a promoter, “just giving them a platform to fight for bigger and better things.” Given the amount of respect accorded to Remillard in the New England boxing scene and beyond, it should come as no surprise that Rivera offered Remillard the co-feature spot against Lawrence, MA lightweight Agustine Mauras, a hard-headed boxer coming off a loss, two draws, and two years of inactivity after a back-to-back-to-back trilogy with Joseph “Chip” Perez. At a lively press conference held at the Ballot Box Pub in Kelley Square, “Ruthless” Augustine Mauras promised to put the more experienced Remillard “on his ass” in what he said would be the toughest fight of Remillard’s career.
Remillard, 24-1 (13) promised to punish Mauras, 6-2-3 (3) for that and for eight rounds that’s exactly what he did with a vicious attack to the body from start to finish, winning by scores of 80-71, 79-72, and 78-73. Mauras lost a point in the fourth for a headbutt. In the sixth and seventh, a bloody mouthed Mauras, two pounds heavier at 138, was taking a pounding to the point where it looked like he might gas out or get stopped in the final round. Credit to Mauras for making it a fight and for making it to the finish line but he absorbed a beating upstairs and downstairs.
Afterwards, Remillard told the media that he should’ve gotten Mauras out of there. I asked him why he didn’t. “He took a good shot,” Remillard said. “For me it was all about getting the rounds. Mauras came to fight. He’s a slippery, unpredictable fighter. I give him all the credit but I’m not looking to be his friend.”
Remillard is looking forward to fighting again in June.
In the main event in name only, cruiserweight Vinnie Carita, 195, 16-1-1 (14), Pembroke, MA, scored a mismatched first round stoppage of Gilberto Domingos, 196, 22-7 (20), Sao Paulo, Brazil. Domingos was grossly out of shape, possessed little in the way of technique, and was finished in the corner after one round. The 32-year-old “American Nightmare” Carita is a strong local draw. His pitiful opponent was stopped in four of his last six bouts and was coming off three consecutive stoppage losses. Make it four…
Heavyweight Bryan Daniels, 199, 4-0 (2), Worcester, MA, ground down Mike Sawyer, 200, 7-8 (5), Winter Park, FL, for a TKO at 2:54 of the first. A feared amateur who was defeated by decision in Lowell, Mass in 2010 by Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the New England Golden Gloves for the Rocky Marciano trophy, Daniels was clipped early in the round by Sawyer but overcame the punch.
Junior middleweight Derrick Whitley, 1-0, Springfield, MA, made a successful pro debut, defeating Anthony Everett, 1-5, Lawrence, MA, by unanimous decision. Scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37. Following in his father’s fighting footsteps, Whitley showed poise against his taller, more physically fit opponent. The joyous winner addressed a sold out crowd following the announcement of his first win.
Super lightweight prospect “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams, 6-0 (4), Manchester, CT, an 18- year-old managed by Jackie Kallen, scored a sensational first round knockout of Israel Rojas, 10-16 (3), Mexico, with a lead right hand that hurt Rojas followed up by two fast two left hooks that rendered him down and out for the ten count. Kallen has to be happy with what she saw from her fighter. “He has the ingredients,” she said. “And he’s still got a lot of man strength to grow into.”
Super lightweight Anthony Laureano, 3-0 (2), East Hartford, CT, pounded out Bryan “The Brick” Abraham, 6-25-1 (6), Schenectady, NY, for a grueling TKO at 2:45 of the third.
Welterweight Andy Gonzalez, 6-1 (5), Worcester, MA, defeated Antonio Chavez Fernandez, 7-31-4 (2), Brockton, MA, by unanimous decision. All three judges had it 39-37. Fernandez threw a light jab early that failed to keep Gonzalez at bay. The more aggressive Gonzalez was able to work his way inside and land heavy hooks to secure the victory at home.
Welterweight Adrian Sosa, 3-0 (3), Lawrence, MA, scored an easy first round knockout of Oscar Diaz, 0-11, Hartford, CT, at 1:34 of the opening round. Sosa, 21, pressed Diaz into a corner and pummeled him to the canvas where referee Mike Ryan counted him out.
Featherweight Luis Santiago, 0-0-1, Springfield, MA drew with Alex Montes, 1-2-1, Lawrence, MA, by scores of 40-36 Santiago, 40-36 Montes, and 38-38 even. It looked like it would be a quick night for Santiago but his flabby Puerto Rican opponent hung in there and gave a good account of himself. The draw was the right call. But how about those two judges who saw totally opposite fights?
Super middleweight Elvis Figueroa, 1-0 (1), New Haven, CT, stopped Devison Ribiero, 0-4, Tampa, FL, in the corner after two rounds of one-sided action. Figueroa is a three time USA national amateur champ. Ribiero is a cage fighter who moonlights as a boxer.
Six-foot-ten heavyweight Donnie “Big Nasty” Palmer, 275, 9-1-1 (8), Dorchester, MA, stopped Bobby “Not Doing Himself Any” Favors, 377, 1-5, Cincinnati, OH, at 2:06 of the first round. Favors reacted poorly to hard nasty punches and the referee did him a huge favor.
Photo credit: Emily Harney / Rivera Promotions Entertainment
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