PAWTUCKET --- While folks across the Northeast were bracing themselves for today’s 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 night’s 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 ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” at 9 p.m., will be part of a marquee Manfredo’s Gym double feature, because the fight before Manfredo’s contains his stablemate, unbeaten super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez of Worcester, Mass.
“It’s a very big fight obviously for me because it’s on national television and I haven’t been on there for a long time,” said the IBO (International Boxing Organization) world middleweight champion. “Hopefully, this will lead to a big fight, but I have to look good and win this one.”
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. 12’s 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 hasn’t 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.
“I remember him from the amateurs,” said Manfredo. “This kid’s been in the game for a long time. He’s smart, he’s slick, he knows what he’s doing. He reminds me of a (Jeff) Lacy. I have to box him because he’s very strong and he comes forward. It’s going to be a tough fight, but I feel I can beat him.”
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 he’d like to take on, beginning with Argentinean southpaw and WBC (World Boxing Council) champion Sergio Martinez.
“Sergio Mora and Alfonso Gomez keep getting these big fights,” Manfredo offered. “Where’s 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. It’s not worth doing it if you’re not going to make big money, so that’s my goal -- get a big fight, hopefully with one of the best, and take it from there.”
Surprisingly, this will be both boxers’ 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.
“It stinks to be 30,” Manfredo said with a smile. “A lot of people have said, ‘Yeah, you’re still young,’ but I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and when you do this (for that long), you don’t feel very young. You wake up, you’re sore sometimes, and you even don’t do anything and you’re tired. I look at these young guys like Edwin, who’s 25, and I used to be a killer at that age and have all the energy in the world. ”
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.
“It’s cool that we’re from the same gym and we’re on the same card,” said Manfredo. “Edwin is an up-and-coming killer, and he’s going to be a future world champion as long as he keeps his head in the game.”
This weekend’s card in Florida hasn’t 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.
Falowo’s first fight of 2011 will be on Friday, Feb. 4 at Mohegan Sun Arena on CES’s “Block Party” 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 gym’s best amateur fighters, lightweight Toka Khan-Cleary, will also be in action on Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Fox Theater for the Olympic trials’ 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 region’s top boxers who hope to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials in Colorado Springs, Col.
Saturday’s 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.