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PAWTUCKET --- While folks across the Northeast were bracing themselves for todayâs heavy snowstorm, Peter Manfredo Jr. pulled off the great escape on Tuesday by jumping on an early flight that took him to sunny Key West, Fla.
But instead of heading to Florida to work on his tan and enjoy a pleasurable vacation, Manfredo chose business over pleasure and flew down for his next fight, Friday nightâs 10-round middleweight bout against Daniel Edouard of West Palm Beach, Fla. at Mallory Square overlooking Key West Harbor.
The non-title bout, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2âs âFriday Night Fightsâ at 9 p.m., will be part of a marquee Manfredoâs Gym double feature, because the fight before Manfredoâs contains his stablemate, unbeaten super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez of Worcester, Mass.
âItâs a very big fight obviously for me because itâs on national television and I havenât been on there for a long time,â said the IBO (International Boxing Organization) world middleweight champion. âHopefully, this will lead to a big fight, but I have to look good and win this one.â
Manfredo comes into the fight with a 36-6 (20 KOs) mark that features five straight wins as a middleweight since he made the decision to drop from the super middleweight ranks at the end of 2008.
Included in that string of victories was the biggest one of his career, a 10th-round TKO of Angel Hernandez last May 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena that landed him his first world title, and his last win, last Nov. 12âs sixth-round TKO of Jhon Berrio at Twin River Event Center.
His opponent, Edouard, brings a 23-3-2 (14 KOs) into the fight. The Haitian product hasnât fought since last July 31, when he dropped an 11-round split decision to Alfonso Mosquera in Colon City, Panama that cost Edouard his WBA (World Boxing Association) Fedelatin title.
âI remember him from the amateurs,â said Manfredo. âThis kidâs been in the game for a long time. Heâs smart, heâs slick, he knows what heâs doing. He reminds me of a (Jeff) Lacy. I have to box him because heâs very strong and he comes forward. Itâs going to be a tough fight, but I feel I can beat him.â
Manfredo hopes a dominant victory in front of a national audience will help land him another major fight, and he has a wish list of fighters that heâd like to take on, beginning with Argentinean southpaw and WBC (World Boxing Council) champion Sergio Martinez.
âSergio Mora and Alfonso Gomez keep getting these big fights,â Manfredo offered. âWhereâs my big fight? If I win this fight, it will be my sixth win in a row at middleweight. Show me some money. Show me some love. Show me a big fight. Itâs not worth doing it if youâre not going to make big money, so thatâs my goal -- get a big fight, hopefully with one of the best, and take it from there.â
Surprisingly, this will be both boxersâ first bout as 30-somethings. Manfredo -- who is also ranked eighth in the IBF (International Boxing Federation) and 11th in the WBC -- turned 30 the day after Thanksgiving, while Edouard celebrated his birthday three days earlier.
âIt stinks to be 30,â Manfredo said with a smile. âA lot of people have said, âYeah, youâre still young,â but Iâve been doing this for 20 years, and when you do this (for that long), you donât feel very young. You wake up, youâre sore sometimes, and you even donât do anything and youâre tired. I look at these young guys like Edwin, whoâs 25, and I used to be a killer at that age and have all the energy in the world. â
Speaking of Rodriguez, he will take a 17-0 (13 KOs) mark into his toughest fight to date against Aaron Pryor Jr. (15-2, 11 KOs), the son of former world junior lightweight champion and Hall of Famer Aaron Pryor.
Rodriguez also enters the bout with five straight knockouts, and in his last fight on Nov. 5 in Fargo, N.D., he had a ninth-round TKO of James McGirt that landed him the WBC USNBC championship.
âItâs cool that weâre from the same gym and weâre on the same card,â said Manfredo. âEdwin is an up-and-coming killer, and heâs going to be a future world champion as long as he keeps his head in the game.â
This weekendâs card in Florida hasnât been the only news to come out of the Conant Street gym. Pawtucket middleweight Thomas Falowo recently inked a contract with local Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc. and is scheduled to fight six times this year.
Falowoâs first fight of 2011 will be on Friday, Feb. 4 at Mohegan Sun Arena on CESâs âBlock Partyâ show. The Blackstone Academy alumnus, who also took part in football and track and field at Shea High, will duel Greg McCoy (2-1-2, 1 KO) of New Haven, Conn. in a four-round battle.
The 21-year-old prospect was a smashing success in his pro debut last Nov. 12 at Twin River against Odias Dumezil of Winter Haven, Fla. Falowo ruled the first round before knocking out Dumezil 1:50 into the second.
One of the gymâs best amateur fighters, lightweight Toka Khan-Cleary, will also be in action on Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casinoâs Fox Theater for the Olympic trialsâ qualifying matches.
The 18-year-old Khan-Cleary, who captured the National Golden Gloves 123-pound championship last spring in Little Rock, Ark, will take on Isaiah Melendez of Hartford, Conn. for the Open lightweight championship.
This featured card will feature bouts between USA Boxing-Connecticut and Team New England and showcase some of the regionâs top boxers who hope to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials in Colorado Springs, Col.
Saturdayâs victors will move on to the regional competitions in Lake Placid, N.Y. in February and then compete in the USA Championships in Colorado Springs in March. The finalists from the Colorado Springs competition will earn an automatic berth in the Olympic trials.