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Manfredo Jr. ready to unleash on Wright



 Manfredo Jr. ready to unleash on WrightPROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 6th, 2013) — CES photo by Kelly MacDonald — Aside from being a little older, and perhaps a bit wiser, the Peter Manfredo Jr. you see today is much different than “The Pride Of Providence” who rose to fame nearly eight years ago as a fan-favorite on the hit, reality television series The Contender.

As he continues his comeback, which began in November with a victory at Twin River Casino, Manfredo Jr. (38-7, 20 KOs) finds himself balancing life both in and outside of the ring, first as a husband and father, and then as a professional boxer.

Nowadays, each morning begins at 4 as Manfredo Jr. commutes to Boston for his day job. Then it’s back to Rhode Island to hit the gym in preparation for his Friday, March 15th, 2013 showdown against fellow Contender alum Walter Wright (14-3, 7 KOs) before finally heading home to Connecticut with his wife and three children.

The mileage adds up, but it’s worth putting in the extra work moonlighting as a laborer and boxer as long as Manfredo Jr. can avoid the pitfalls that have plagued so many fighters in the aftermath of their professional careers.

“I would never put my kids in this game,” said Manfredo Jr., whose 10-round bout against Wright will headline Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Unfinished Business” boxing card next Friday at the Twin River Event Center.

“There are no happy endings, not even for some of the best fighters in the world. Joe Louis died broke. Sugar Ray Robinson died broke. Muhammad Ali is like a vegetable now. There are no pensions or retirement funds. Why do we keep fighting? We’re living within our means when we’re fighting. When you’re not fighting, how do you make ends meets?

“At the end of the day, when you’re 30-something years old and you’ve put your whole career into boxing and now you have to get up to go to work, it’s tough to keep up. There aren’t any happy endings in this business, but maybe someday when I’m retired I can be a spokesperson for kids.”

Since he announced his comeback last year, Manfredo Jr. has made it clear he’s fighting to provide for his family. Asked what he would consider a “happy ending,” he said, “I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in boxing.

“I’m probably the one percent who’s made it to where I’ve been. I’ve fought some of the best fighters in the world. I fought Joe Calzaghe in front of 30,000 in Wales. I fought Sakio Bika. I fought Jeff Lacy. I fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I’ve fought on HBO, ESPN – all over the world. I won a [International Boxing Organization] world title. If it were to end today, it’d be perfect.

“Now, I’m just doing it for the extra money. It’s a trade, like when guys fought during the Great Depression. God gave me this gift, and I’m going to use it. I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore.”

Balancing both careers hasn’t been easy, but the fight in November against Rayco Saunders (a 10-round unanimous-decision win) allowed Manfredo Jr. to shake off the ring rust. Now it’s business as usual as he prepares to face Wright, a Seattle, Wash., native and former quarterfinalist on Season 2 of The Contender, who will be fighting for the first time since 2010.

“I feel good,” Manfredo Jr. said. “I’ve been in the gym a lot, whereas before when I was preparing for the last fight I hadn’t been in the gym for a whole year.

“I definitely feel an improvement. Things are a lot better than last time. At the same time, I didn’t get to go to camp [in California with trainer Freddie Roach] because I’m working full-time, but I still feel good as I’m moving along. Everything is coming back to me. I’m getting and now I have to work everyday at 4 a.m. and hit the gym after that, but I’m getting it done. I’m excited for this fight.”

Tickets for “Unfinished Business” are $40.00, $60.00, $100.00 and $150.00 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.shop.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.

The undercard of “Unfinished Business” features an array of intriguing regional showdowns, starting with an intra-city battle between Joey Gardner (10-5-1, 1 KO) and Reynaldo Rodriguez (6-5-1, 3 KOs) of Woonsocket, R.I. The former training partners will go toe-to-toe in a six-round super middleweight special attraction.

Also on the undercard, Boston middleweight Julio Garcia (6-3, 3 KOs) – trained by former heavyweight world champion John Ruiz – will face Thomas Falowo (8-1, 6 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., in a six-round bout while light heavyweight Kevin Cobbs (6-1, 2 KOs) of Burlington, Vt., who is looking to bounce back from his first career loss in November, will face hard-htting Paul Gonsalves (4-2, 3 KOs) of Harwich, Mass., in a four-round bout.

Warwick, R.I., super middleweight Benny Costantino (7-2, 4 KOs) is also back in action and looking to bounce back from his loss in July as he faces Quincy, Mass., veteran Emmanuel Medina (2-3-1, 2 KOs), who appeared in a nationally-televised bout on ESPN2 in January. Unbeaten, 19-year-old Polish welterweight Patryk Szymanski (5-0, 2 KOs), fighting out of North Bergen, N.J., will make a special appearance in a six-round bout against Antonio Chaves Fernandes (2-8-1) of Brockton, Mass. Jesse Barboza (5-1-1, 3 KOs), a Barnstable, Mass., heavyweight, will return to Twin River for the first time since 2010 when he faces Jeramiah Witherspoon (2-2-1, 1 KO) of Altoona, Pa., in a four-round bout, while female bantamweight Noemi Bosques (1-0), a St. Petersburg, Fla., native who now trains in Providence, will face Queens native Vanessa Greco (1-2-1) in a four-round bout. All bouts are subject to change.

(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Unfinished Business.” Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)