TWIN RIVER CASINO, LINCOLN, R.I. ― Boxing fans are well accustomed to the dynamic of promotional paralysis. In simple terms it’s when rival promoters won’t work together to make the fights we want to see. Think Don King and Bob Arum. Or more recently it was Oscar De La Hoya refusing to collaborate with his old promoter Top Rank Boxing. Today, it’s Al Haymon and his PBC pitted against his peers. None of that nonsense makes any sense to folks down in Lincoln, Rhode Island, home base for Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports: aka CES.
Promoting boxers from the southern New England region and sometimes beyond, “Mister B” worked with Dropkick Murphy singer Ken Casey’s Massachusetts based Murphy Boxing to put on a Friday night at the fights that more than just highlighted top draws in walkover bouts.
No. In fact both the main event and co-main event highlighted a Murphy fighter against a CES boxer. Broadcast via internet PPV on FITE.TV, the whole mashup was enough to draw me back down to Vinny Pazville for a red hot spot in press row where I covered the action live for TSS.
Here’s what I saw:
In the main event scheduled for eight, CES’s Khiary Gray, 14-3 (11), was defeated on “home turf” by Team Murphy’s Greg Vendetti, 15-2-1 (10), winner by majority decision and now unbeaten in his last eleven. Vendetti (pictured) is an improving young fighter and he proved it tonight to retain his NE title. Gray, 154, Worcester, Mass, was looking for a return to his earlier status as a top local prospect while Vendetti, 152, Stoneham, Mass, was just looking for a good fight. As it turned out, Vendetti got exactly what he was looking for, an eye-opening upset of sorts.
Gray suffered a nationally televised disaster last July on SHOBOX at nearby Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, falling in two rounds to New Jersey’s Ian Green. It was a devastating setback to Gray who was then beaten again in his most recent outing here at Twin River, a unanimous eight round decision loss last February to Brooklynite Courtney Pennington.
Three strikes and you’re out?
Gray vs. Vendetti was boxer vs. slugger. In the opening round, Vendetti landed a hurtful left hand to the heart of Gray who responded with a nice right uppercut. Vendetti stole the first round with a flush right hand to the jaw late in the frame. In the second, Vendetti did good work to the body in a round that didn’t feature a lot of action. Gray picked up the pace in the third while Vendetti stalked him only to get pot shotted from the outside by single punches. It was in the fifth that Vendetti really asserted himself, landing a great right hand to the eye which really bothered Gray.
From the sixth through the eighth, Vendetti was like a tank moving forward undeterred, landing his power punches while Gray wheeled around the ring trying to avoid all the incoming. Gray fights with his hands too low but by the last round he put his gloves up — to protect himself.
After Vendetti was announced winner of the bout by majority decision scores of 78-74, 77-75, and 76-76, the “Villain” had choice words for his vanquished opponent. “This fight was supposed to have been scheduled for ten rounds,” Vendetti said into a live mic. “I don’t know what happened but in a ten round fight, I would’ve knocked him effin dead!”
The crowd went nuts.
The scheduled eight round co-feature saw Murphy standout Mark “The Bazooka” DeLuca, 19-0 (12), victorious against CES tough guy Chris Chatman, 14-7-1 (5) in another compelling junior middleweight scrap. Chatman, 156, is a spoiler of sorts owing to recent CES victories over Thomas Falowo and Vladine Biosse. Chatman was coming off a defeat last October at the hands of tonight’s main event loser; a brutal fight in which Chatman, 32, was knocked out in seven by Khiary Gray with a left-right-combo for the KO. DeLuca, 154, Quincy, Mass, is a United States Marine. The 29-year-old is also largely untested despite flashes of promising power.
Chatman did his best to outbox DeLuca early with movement and well-paced punch output. The southpaw DeLuca didn’t punch in combination nearly often enough but his precision was enough to shade most of the early rounds. In the fourth, an ugly cut appeared over the right eye of DeLuca. As rounds passed, Chatman got gradually bolder but he never took charge of the fight.
In the sixth, a straight left to the body sent an off-balance Chatman tumbling into the ropes for a knockdown. Ultimately, the judges scored it unanimously for DeLuca, 78-73. “Chris gave me my toughest fight to date,” DeLuca confessed before thanking trainer Hector Bermudez for getting the blood flow under control in the corner. Chatman told the hostile CES crowd he won the fight by out-landing DeLuca “three to one” before storming off and shouting something about Chicago.
On The Undercard:
Lightweight local draw Anthony Marsella Jr., 5-0 (2), 135, Providence, R.I., got all he could handle from determined Mexican opponent Abraham Torres, 3-2 (1), 136, Dallas, TX. Struggling to deal with Torres’ pressure from the outset, Marsella was sent to the canvas by a clean left hook in the fourth round. Somehow the judges all saw it for Marsella, 58-55 twice and 57-56. If Marsella wasn’t so popular with CES fans, he and the bad decision might have been booed.
Heavyweight Juiseppe Cusamano, 11-1 (9), 29, 235, Richmond, Virginia, beat down Dan Biddle, 9-7 (5), 224, Wilmington, Delaware, with body shots at 2:30 of the second. Introduced to Godfather music and compared by his promoter to Rocky Marciano, Cusumano is a handful.
Middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr., 7-0-2 (5), 163, Worcester, Mass, outpointed Godson Noel, 6-1-1 (4), 162, Newark, NJ, for a unanimous six round decision, 58-56 twice and 59-55. Noel, an Army Veteran and New Jersey State Police Officer, looked like a welterweight against a middleweight. Ball used his size and range to score points but never came close to hurting Noel.
Super lightweight Matt “The Mantis” Doherty, 7-3-1 (4), Salem, Mass, squeaked by Placido Hoff,1-2 (1), 136, Providence, via four round majority decision. Scores: 38-38, and 39-37 twice.
Lightweight Michael Valentin, 1-0 (1), 137, Providence, R.I., made a very bright pro debut, blowing out fellow rookie Kevin Freitas, 0-1, 137, Sommerville, Mass, at :55 of the first.
Featherweight Ricky De Los Santos, 2-0, 126, Pawtucket, R.I., defeated Malcolm Simms, 0-1-1, 124, Newark, NJ, by four round unanimous decision in the show opener. Simms was dropped by a straight right in the second round and never fully recovered. Scores: 39-36 and 38-37 twice.
Photo credit: Emily Harney
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