By Jason Marchetti at ringside
Photos: Emily Harney
Former “Contender: Season One” star and two-time world title challenger Peter “The Pride of Providence” Manfredo Jr. (41-7-1, 21 KOs) needed just 79 seconds to knock out 40-year-old Melvin “The Romantic Redneck” Russell (11-8-2, 7 KOs) on Saturday night at the Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Fighting for the first time since 2016, Manfredo laid out Russell with a left hook to the body in a scheduled 10-round light heavyweight bout.
Manfredo, who turns 39 in three days, has not fought in three-and-a-half years but came to the fight in shape, perhaps looking for one more big fight. “The Pride of Providence” can still sell tickets in Rhode Island as evidenced by the sell-out crowd tonight. The card was promoted by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports.
Manfredo, Jr. earned early fame and opportunities with the first season of The Contender and has fought for a world title at super middleweight twice, against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Joe Calzaghe. He earned the IBO middleweight belt in 2010 versus Angel Hernandez.
Nick Delomba (16-2, 4 KO’s) annihilated Diego Vicente Perez (13-9-1, 11 KO’s) in the 3rd round in their contest at super lightweight. Perez had no business being in the ring with an opponent with the skill of Delomba. Delomba took care of business early and the bout was stopped at the end of the 3rd round.
Joshua Orta (6-0, 2 KO’s) defeated previously unbeaten Michael ‘Bling Bling’ Valentin (6-1-1, 1 KO’s) in a 6 round bout at super featherweight. Both fighters had their moments, but Valentin tired down the stretch, perhaps leaving his opponent an opportunity in the last round to earn the victory. The judges scored the 57-57, 59-55, and 58-56.
Victor Reynoso (6-0, 5 KO’s) outboxed Roque Zapata (6-3-5) in a 6 round bout at welterweight. Reynoso’s KO streak ended tonight as he faced a very tough Zapata who refused to hit the canvas for the entire contest. Reynoso, an incredibly big and strong welterweight, found himself chasing Zapata for most of the night, and when he connected with solid and flush shots to the head, Zapata impressively maneuvered himself out of trouble. The final scores were 59-55 and 60-54 (twice) for the promising young talent from Providence.
In his professional boxing debut, Gary Balletto, Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) dropped Luis Iniguez (2-3-1) with a solid left hook with 30 seconds remaining in their 4 rounder at light heavyweight. Iniguez beat the count but the contest was rightfully waved off. Iniguez was a decent opponent but Balletto, Jr. did what he was supposed to do to jumpstart his boxing career after spending a few years in MMA. His father, Gary “The Tiger” Balletto also had a successful career in Providence totaling a record of 31-3-2, (26 KO’s). Balletto Jr, definitely has the name and pedigree to make some noise in the New England boxing scene.
In an ugly fight at cruiserweight, featuring two, quite out-of-shape athletes, Chad Leoncello (debut) fought Omar Acosta (1-6, 1 KO) to a majority draw. Acosta actually dropped Leoncello in the 2nd round with a wide right hand. However, he gave the point back later in the fight after he spit out his mouthpiece for the 4th time. The final scores were 37-37 (twice) and 38-36 (Acosta)
In a back and forth affair at lightweight, Shayna Foppiano (2-0, 1 KO) defeated Raquel Santos (0-1) after 4 rounds of action. The best round was the 3rd, when Santos cracked Foppiano with a right hand and Foppiano’s legs buckled. However, after just a minute, Foppiano had Santos corned and was scoring herself. Great fight which was much closer that the judges scores, (40-36, 39-37, and 38-38)
Brian ‘The Bull’ Barbosa (32-7, 23 KO’s) decisioned Tim Cronin (11-4-2, 2 KO’s) in a 6 round bout at light heavyweight. Barbosa, 46, was once a very feared opponent in the middleweight division and had sensational knockout power into his late 30’s when he ended his career. His revival tonight was actually impressive for his age, connecting on several overhand right and left hands on his taller opponent. The final scores were 57-57, and 59-55 (twice).