LINCOLN – Pawtucket’s Thomas “The Souljah” Falowo and Woonsocket’s Joe Gardner did their respective hometowns proud on Thursday night and were among the big winners on Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Closing Statement” show at the Twin River Event Center.
Falowo picked up his second knockout victory in three months with a fifth-round TKO of Michael Walchuk of Ontario, Canada, a bout that saw the Manfredo’s Gym middleweight dominate his opponent from start to finish and deliver one of the best efforts of his young two-year career.
Gardner, meanwhile, needed to overcome a late second-round knockdown to claim a split decision victory over Philip Burnette of Myrtle Beach, S.C. A strong showing in the final two rounds helped the Woonsocket Boxing Club middleweight win the bout by scores of 56-59, 57-56, and 58-55.
The news, however, wasn’t as good for Pawtucket junior lightweight Toka Kahn-Clary, who saw his bout with Jamell Tyson of Rochester, N.Y. stopped late in the second round due to an unintentional headbutt by Tyson that resulted in each fighter receiving a nasty gash over one of their eyes. The fight resulted in a no contest.
Falowo, who was spectacular in his fourth-round stoppage of Rahman Yusubov back on July 19 at Twin River, seemed to be a step better in his performance against Walchuk (9-6, 2 KOs), who also delivered his share of shots, but none that seemed to affect Falowo.
Falowo (8-1, 6 KOs) overcame a four-round headbutt by Walchuk (9-6, 2 KOs) that left a small cut about Walchuk’s left ear by quickly putting him away in the fifth. A barrage of punches drove Walchuk backwards into the ropes, and 40 seconds into the round, referee Ricky Gonzalez decided enough was enough for Walchuk and put an end to the fight.
“This is what we trained for,” said Falowo. “There were a lot of things that I worked on that I felt like I did in the ring. I still know I can do a lot better, but I’m very happy with how I fought and how everything worked out tonight.”
Gardner improved his record to 9-5 with his performance, which saw him clearly win the first, third, and last two rounds despite absorbing a left from Burnette (2-6) that sent him to the canvas in the final seconds of the second round.
“We were hitting each other at the same time,” noted Gardner. “I was turning to my left and I hit him with a hook, but he hit me a split second sooner, and I was only standing on one foot because I was pivoting. He flashed me down, but I spun right back up and I was up on the one count.”
But Gardner was in control for most of the fight and landed the majority of the punches. He delivered his share of body shots that seemed to affect Burnette, and he landed a left uppercut early to Burnette’s mouth early in the bout that ended up drawing a lot of blood in the final two rounds.
“I definitely needed (this win),” said Gardner, who won for the first time since defeating Pawtucket’s Rameil Shelton in March. “He’s a lot tougher than his record. I was hoping to be a little smoother, but he was awkward, hard to fight, and he threw a lot of swiping punches. I couldn’t really get my combinations off because of the way he was fighting.”
Kahn-Clary (2-0, 2 KOs) looked to be well on his way to his third pro victory in the last four months in his bout with Tyson (3-8-2), as the Manfredo’s Gym southpaw punished Tyson with straight lefts for most of the opening round and was in control of the second before Tyson’s headbutt left its bloody mark over Kahn-Clary’s right eye.
Tyson was also bleeding profusely from above his left eye, and both fighters were sent to a nearby hospital for stitches.
“It’s unfortunate,” added Falowo. “He had a nice little cut, but not too much damage, so he’ll be back really soon. But Toka looked really good. He had him hurt in the first round twice, and you could see Toka starting to land his shots really nice.”
Another fighter with ties to the Pawtucket area, South Attleboro’s Richard Gingras, was also a big winner on the undercard, as the light heavyweight and owner/head trainer of the Fight2Fitness health club on Blackstone Avenue in Pawtucket landed a second-round TKO of Dennis Ogboo of Lexington, Ky.
Gingras, who fought on The Contender IV reality TV series, improved to 11-3 with his seventh career knockout. He ruled Ogboo (7-6, 6 KOs) in the second round and landed a hard left that sent him to the canvas with 52 seconds to go in the round, forcing Ogboo’s corner to wave the towel at referee Joey Lupino and halt the fight with 30 seconds left.
The only other local boxer on the card, East Providence welterweight Dinis “Sweetbread” Paiva Jr., suffered an unanimous-decision loss to former three-time New England Golden Gloves champion Jon Smith of Cranston in their pro debuts.
Paiva, who lost the four-round fight by scores of 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37, is best known for his exploits as a mixed martial arts fighter, where he sports a 2-3 record and had won his last fight on Aug. 3 at Twin River with a second-round submission victory.
In the main event, which featured a pair of Hartford junior lightweights fighting for the New England championship, Joseph “Chip” Perez was a majority-decision winner over Chazz McDowell, as Perez (10-1, 3 KOs) nipped McDowell (6-3,1 KO) by scores of 76-76, 77-75, and 78-74.
Manfredo’s Gym female bantamweight Shelito Vincent of Providence excelled in the co-feature and raised her record to 5-0 by registering her second unanimous-decision victory over Ivana Coleman of Slidell, La. (0-2) in three months by consecutive 40-36 scores.
Providence super middleweight Alex Amparo also made good again in his rematch with Nick Lavin of Shelton, Conn. Last year, Amparo (5-0, 3 KOs) was a majority-decision winner over Lavin (2-4, 2 KOs), but this time, Amparo scored a TKO victory 53 seconds into the fourth round.