LINCOLN – The final installment of Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.’s ‘Thursday Night Fights’ series at the Twin River Event Center is this week, and for local fight fans, this will be an excellent chance to see a good group of Blackstone Valley fighters in action before 2012 comes to a close.
As many as five boxers from the Pawtucket and Woonsocket areas are on the undercard of Thursday night’s “Closing Statement” show, which is highlighted by the eight-round main event between Joseph “Chip” Perez and Chazz “Magnificent” McDowell for the vacant New England junior lightweight championship.
Expect a strong showing of Woonsocket fans in attendance to see their favorite son, Joe Gardner, in action. The Woonsocket middleweight and Woonsocket Boxing Club boxer will bring an 8-5-1 record into a six-round matchup with Philip Burnette (2-5, 1 KO) of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Gardner was slated to take on West Warwick’s Keith Kozlin in a rematch of their EBA (Eastern Boxing Association) New England light heavyweight title bout on Nov. 12, 2010, a six-round unanimous-decision victory for Gardner that he won by scores of 59-55, 58-56, and 58-56.
Kozlin disputed the defeat and began a war of words with Gardner that lasted nearly two years. But just when it looked like Kozlin was finally going to get his opportunity to settle the score with Gardner, he bowed out of the bout, citing an undisclosed injury that will require surgery.
Pawtucket middleweight Thomas “The Souljah” Falowo (7-1, 5 KOs) will seek his third victory of the year when he takes on Michael Walchuk (9-6, 2 KOs) of Ontario, Canada in a six-round bout.
Both fighters last fought on the July 19 card on Twin River, with Falowo bouncing back from his only career loss with an impressive fourth-round stoppage of Rahman Yusubov, and Walchuk suffered his fourth straight defeat when Vladine Biosse ended his night in the fifth round of their main event fight.
It appeared that only four local fighters would be on the card, but last week, the 20-year-old Kahn was officially added to the lineup. The highly-touted prospect will appear in a four-round junior lightweight bout against an opponent to the determined.
Kahn, who signed with Top Rank Boxing in Las Vegas after a truly outstanding amateur career, made his professional debut on June 29 in Providence with a second-round TKO of Jonathan Caban, and on Aug. 18 in Atlantic City, he pummeled Jamil Winfield before earning an opening-round TKO that took 76 seconds.
“Adding Toka to this already-stacked lineup is an honor and a privilege,” CES president Jimmy Burchfield remarked in a press release. “I’ve watched him grow up as an amateur and become not only a successful fighter, but a remarkable young man as well. This is a must-see event with an all-star lineup, and it’s only fitting that one of Rhode Island’s brightest young stars will be on the card.”
Another boxer with strong ties to the Pawtucket area, South Attleboro light heavyweight Richard Gingras, will also be fighting. The owner/head trainer of the Fight2Fitness health club on Blackstone Avenue in Pawtucket, Gingras (11-3, 7 KOs) will take on Providence fan favorite Richard “Bobo The Bull” Starnino (9-9-2, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout.
Gingras, who fought on The Contender IV reality TV series, will be trying to come back from an upset defeat to Terrance Smith (7-13-2) on the May 24 show at Twin River, as a severe cut to Gingras’ forehead in the second round forced the ringside physician to halt the fight, as a result, give Smith the stoppage victory.
Starnino, meanwhile, will be seeking his first victory in more than four years. He has lost his last six fights.
Rounding out the local fighter is East Providence’s Dinis Paiva Jr., who is best known as a mixed martial arts fighter and is recognized by fans with his “Sweetbread” nickname. Paiva will make his pro boxing debut, along with Jon Smith of Cranston, in a four-round welterweight fight.
Paiva sports a 2-3 record in MMA competition and won his last fight on Aug. 3 at Twin River with a second-round submission victory over Gilvan Santos, and Smith is a former three-time New England Golden Gloves champion.
Falowo and Kahn, who fight out of Manfredo’s Gym in Pawtucket, will be joined on the card by another boxer from the Conant Street complex, Providence female bantamweight prospect Shelito Vincent, who sports a 4-0 mark.
Vincent will face Ivana Coleman (0-1) of Slidell, La. for the second time in four months. Vincent earned a convincing unanimous-decision victory in their first bout on the July 19 card by sweeping all four rounds on each of the scorecards.
Another R.I. fighter on the card is Providence super middleweight Alex Amparo (4-0, 2 KOs) of the 401 Boxing Club in Cranston. He will contest Nick Lavin (2-3, 2 KOs) of Shelton, Conn. in a four-round rematch of their Oct. 7, 2011 fight at Twin River that saw Amparo grab a close majority-decision victory by scores of 39-37, 38-37, 38-38.
The main event will pit two Hartford, Conn. rivals in Perez and McDowell. Perez (9-1, 3 KOs) will seek his fifth straight victory, while McDowell (6-2, 1 KO) has lost two of his last three fights and looking to get back on track.
Tickets for the show are $40, $75 and $125 and can be purchased by calling CES at 724-2253/2254, going online at www.cesboxing.com  or www.twinriver.com , or visiting the Players Club booth at Twin River or any TicketMaster location.
The doors open at 6 p.m. and the first bout will get under way at 7. Twin River has also waived its 18+ rule for the show, and anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and enter through the West entrance.