LINCOLN —“No offense to anyone on the card, but I'm here to steal the show!”
That was the sentence Thomas Falowo typed on his Facebook account on Wednesday morning, two days before the Pawtucket middleweight and Manfredo’s Gym product’s six-round fight on Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “New Era” card at the Twin River Event Center.
Those were bold words, considering Falowo was taking on one of the top middleweight prospects in New England in Hartford, Conn. power puncher Tylon Burris, but Falowo strongly backed up his words with arguably his most impressive performance to date.
Dominating the final five rounds, Falowo grabbed an unanimous decision victory over the previously unbeaten Burris, ruling the bout by scores of 59-54, 59-54, and 60-53.
“This was a really big win for me,” Falowo said as he received congratulations from a few of his friends after the fight. “These are the fights I need. Every time I’m out here, I’m in for a tough fight, and this was another one, but every time I have a tough fight, I handle my business.”
Falowo certainly handled his business well in a showdown that was tabbed as one of the night’s must-see events. After a ho-hum opening round, Falowo went to work on Burris with his jabs and body shots, and his performance just took off from there.
Burris soon resorted to holding Falowo (especially his head) whenever he seemed to get into trouble, and on one occasion in the third round, he was deducted a point for hitting Falowo in the back of his head during one of his clinches.
“It was a little frustrating, but every time he would hold me, I’d throw a little inside body shot,” Falowo added with a smile. “Even though he held me, I kept my arms moving. He was also headbutting a lot, but other than that, everything worked out all right.”
By the fifth round, it appeared Burris was running out of steam, and in the sixth, Falowo saved his best for last with an explosive round that featured several strong combinations and saw Falowo pin Burris against the ropes for most of the final minute.
“I came out here and I put in the work,” said Falowo. “I fought smart. I didn’t let him hit me with anything, and I didn’t overexert myself too much. I felt like I boxed a very good fight; I put my punches together and I kept the pressure on him.”
The victory was the fourth in a row for Falowo, who improved to 10-1 (7 KOs) and was making his seventh straight appearance at the Lincoln casino. Burris fell to 5-1 (3 KOs).
In another fight of local interest, a super middleweight battle that attracted the most fans and was a seesaw affair that left four of its six rounds difficult to call, South Attleboro’s Richard Gingras picked up a split decision victory over Woonsocket’s Joe Gardner.
Gardner, who fell to 11-6-1, was a 58-56 winner on one of the judges’ cards, but Gingras, the owner/head trainer of the Fight 2 Fitness health club in Pawtucket and a contestant on the fourth season of “The Contender” reality TV series in 2008, received 58-56 scores on the other two cards to bump his record to 13-3.
“When the fight was done, I honestly thought I won,” offered Gardner, who was seeking his fourth straight win since last October. “Then when (the ring announcer) said it was a split decision, I wasn’t expecting (the judges) to give it to him.”
Normally a 200-pound cruiserweight who took a fight late last year as a 175-pound junior heavyweight, Gingras was fighting for the first time as a 168-pounder and had no trouble on the scales at Thursday’s weigh-in, as well as a special “second weigh-in” on Friday to make sure he and Gardner didn’t hover past 175.
Gingras, whose legion of fans was sporting red “Fight 2 Fitness” t-shirts, took a 2½-year hiatus from the ring in 2009 to focus on his new fitness and boxing studio on Blackstone Avenue, and he hadn’t fought past two rounds in the three fights since his return to action earlier last year.
But while it looked like conditioning would be a problem for him, it turned out to be the opposite, and he showed no signs of fatigue, especially as the bout extended into its final rounds.
In the eight-round co-feature, Providence super middleweight Vladine Biosse, who has ties to Pawtucket and Central Falls and is a boxing instructor at the Woonsocket Boys & Girls Club, picked up an unanimous decision triumph over Philadelphia’s Latif Mundy, winning by 79-73, 78-74, and 80-73 scores.
It was Biosse’s first fight at Twin River in a calendar year, and his first bout with his new trainer, Paul Andrade. Biosse was coming off a stunning TKO loss to Marcus Upshaw in January at Mohegan Sun, but he responded with a strong camp that included a brief visit to Oakland to work out at world champion Andre Ward’s gym.
And the hard work more than paid off. Biosse (15-2-1, 7 KOs) left no doubt who was the better fighter, and he did the bulk of his damage to Mundy (10-6, 4 KOs) with his power punches, keeping Mundy pinned against the ropes with his shots on a few occasions.
The main event saw Manfredo’s Gym fighter Shelito Vincent seize the WIBA (Women’s International Boxing Association) bantamweight title with an unanimous-decision victory over Angel Gladney of Columbia, S.C.
Vincent, who hails from New London, Conn. and lives in Providence, improved to 9-0 by defeating Gladney (8-8-1, 6 KOs) by scores of 80-71, 79-72, and 79-72.