Greetings! Classic Entertainment & Sports CEO Jimmy Burchfield Sr.
There’s nothing like a night at the fights, from the action in the ring, the fanfare throughout the arena, even the people-watching between bouts. Even as we enjoy a tremendous NBA Finals series this week, featuring two exceptional teams loaded with star talent, the allure and enticement of a great prizefighter stands alone as the most intriguing draw in the sporting world.
Boxing’s greatest fighters have always made an impact both in and out of the ring, whether it was the polarizing Muhammad Ali and what he stood for during a time of conflicting religious and political beliefs, or Floyd Mayweather, who has forever changed the way many view the sport as the wealthiest, most talked-about fighter of this generation.
On any given night, that next great superstar could be stepping through the ropes. In our endless quest to bring you the most entertaining, evenly-matched fights at CES Boxing, we also aim to showcase the sport’s future.
Tomorrow night at Twin River Casino, we return our next installment of the 2017 Twin River Fight Series, a continuance of our year-long 25th anniversary celebration. We have a stacked lineup on tap for Friday’s event. Worcester’s own Khiary Gray, undoubtedly one of the region’s most popular up-and-coming fighters of this new generation, aims to recapture championship glory when he faces Stoneham’s reigning New England Junior Middleweight Champion Greg Vendetti, part of our collaboration with Boston-based promoter Murphys Boxing.
Also fighting in front of our loyal Twin River fans for the first time as a pro is New England’s best-kept secret, Mark DeLuca, an affable, hard-hitting junior middleweight from Whitman who sports an 18-0 record as he prepares to face arguably the toughest challenge of his career against the venerable Chris Chatman, who makes his ninth appearance here in Rhode Island as an unlikely fan-favorite.
While those two fights alone could carry most cards, Friday’s event features depth unlike any fight card in New England in recent years. Many fighters will be making their first appearance in New England’s mecca for pro boxing, including one of our most exciting proteges, 6-foot-7 Sicilian heavyweight Juiseppe Cusumano, who’s poised to take the division by storm, beginning Friday in his Rhode Island debut.
American fight fans have always had a love-hate relationship with heavyweight boxing. The lack of a genuine, homegrown talent or charismatic ambassador for the sport during the Vladimir Klitschko-Vitaly Klitschko reign of dominance forced many to turn a blind eye to boxing’s most prestigious division.
With Anthony Joshua’s scintillating knockout win over the elder Klitschko earlier this year, the heavyweight division is once again up for grabs. It’s a great time to be a heavyweight prospect right now and Cusumano has all the tools; with a 10-1 record, eight wins coming by way of knockout, he has the punching power and footwork to give fight fans their money’s worth, plus a million-dollar smile and positive attitude that will remind many old-school New England fight fans of the great Rocky Marciano, the last great Italian heavyweight to embrace the sport in a way like no other.
Marciano fought in Rhode Island 28 days in his pro career, which ended at a perfect 49-0. Tomorrow will be the first of many for Cusumano, who promised to be the next fan-favorite to step through those ropes.
We’re also proud to introduce Providence featherweight Michael Valentin, nicknamed “Bling Bling” for his flashy style both in and out of the ring, an ode to the late, great Hector “Macho” Camacho. At just 19 years old, Valentin is the youngest fighter on this card, but is wise beyond his years, having battled his whole life to overcome hurdles both in sports and his personal life. He was born with a rare condition known as Hirschsprung disease, which affects the intestines.
Valentin endured bullying as a child and was told he was too small, too fragile to compete in sports, whether it was football, basketball, even boxing. Following a tremendous amateur career in which he proved many doubters wrong, the inspirational Valentin makes his professional debut tomorrow night, something few people thought he’d ever do.
As always, we also continue to bring you the stars of tomorrow whom you’ve grown to adore throughout the years, most notably Anthony Marsella Jr., fresh from Vegas following another training camp at Mayweather’s Boxing Club, as he prepares for the toughest test of his career against Texan Abraham Torres. Then there’s fellow Worcester star Kendrick Ball Jr., the soft-spoken, yet hard-hitting, middleweight who puts his unbeaten record on the line against another unbeaten foe, Godson Noel of New Jersey, in a fight that could steal the show on the undercard.
What’s not to like? Boxing continues to be that one sport that brings fans of all backgrounds together for an unforgettable evening. You don’t need to be an expert or lifelong fan to enjoy the pageantry. Buckle up, because many of tomorrow’s next great superstars are on display for a night that will live on forever.
To stay in business 25 years in a sport like boxing, one has to be willing to adapt and adjust. Each time we open the doors to our home at Twin River, we bring you something you’ve never seen before, whether it’s the crowning of a prestigious WBC champion like we did in April with Jimmy Williams, or the firepower of a heavy-handed monster heavyweight like we will tomorrow with Juiseppe Cusumano.
Missing any single event is potentially missing out on history, so make sure you’re in attendance Friday for what promises to be another major-league event on sport’s grandest stage.