Manfredo Jr. earns first-round KO win in comeback fight

Providence, RI: With nights like, Peter Manfredo Jr. won’t have to wait another three years for his next fight.

“The Pride of Providence” dazzled the capacity crowd at Twin River Casino Hotel, stopping Melvin Russell with a liver shot at 1 minute, 19 seconds of the opening round Saturday night in the main event of CES Boxing’s sold-out event on UFC FIGHT PASS®.

Fighting for the first time since 2016, Manfredo Jr. (41-7, 22 KOs) made quick work of his opponent for career win No. 41, his first since 2013 and just the third first-round knockout victory in his storied career. He is now 8-0-1 lifetime at Twin River. The overmatched Russell, a Lloyd, KY, native, dropped to 11-8-1.

Manfredo Jr.’s thrilling knockout win was one of five featured fights on CES Boxing’s FIGHT PASS stream, which began with Cranston, RI, light heavyweight Gary Balletto III (1-0, 1 KO) earned his first career victory in his professional boxing debut with a fourth-round knockout over Washington’s Luis Iniguez (2-3-1).

Having fought seven times as a pro in mixed martial arts, Balletto III successfully transitioned to boxing Saturday, following in the footsteps of his father, Gary “Tiger” Balletto. The 24-year-old Balletto III dominated the fight from the opening bell, but picked up the pace in the third in fourth rounds before dropping Iniguez for good with 20 seconds remaining in the fight courtesy of a swift two-punch combination.

In a fight billed as the showstopper for weeks, Holbrook, MA, super featherweight Joshua Orta (6-0) kept his perfect record intact with a majority-decision win over Providence’s Michael Valentin (6-1-1), handing Valentin his first career loss in the highly-anticipated battle of the unbeatens.

The two took turns grabbing the momentum throughout the fight. Valentin did his best work on the outside by using his superior hand speed, but Orta consistently burrowed his way on the inside and kept Valentin pinned against the ropes with effective flurries to the body and head.

While Orta never hurt Valentin, he prevented his opponent from mounting his own offense, which was just enough to earn the 57-57, 59-55, 58-56 win on the scorecards. Judge Frank Lombardi had it a draw while Ken Ezzo and Peter Hary scored it in favor of Orta.

In the co-main event, Cranston super lightweight Nick DeLomba (16-2, 5 KOs) looked as good as ever in a dominant win over Argentinian Diego Vicente Perez (13-9-1), earning the stopping at the 2:33 mark of the third round with a pair of knockdowns. DeLomba’s slick footwork and surprising power frustrated Perez, who, despite 11 knockouts in his 13 wins, could not inflict enough damage with the hard shots he fired off in the opening round and wound up on the wrong end of DeLomba’s surge.

DeLomba sent Perez to the canvas twice in the third round, prompting referee Johnny Callas to wave it off. DeLomba has now won five in a row, including three by knockout.

Also on FIGHT PASS, Providence welterweight Victor Reynoso (6-0) also looked sharp in his toughest test to date, outworking the always-dangerous Roque Zapata (6-3-5) of Virginia by scored of 59-55, 60-54 and 60-54. The consummate road warrior, Zapata snapped Reynoso’s five-fight knockout streak, but got stopped in his tracks most of the night by Reynoso’s reach, particularly with the right hand. Zapata managed to do some damage on the inside in the middle rounds to keep the fight close, but Reynoso got his second wind toward the end in the first six-round fight of his career to earn the win.

Fighting for the first time in six years, former world-rated middleweight contender Brian Barbosa (32-7) of Providence, RI, highlighted the preliminary card with a hard-earned majority decision win over Canadian veteran Tim Cronin (11-4-2), his first win since 2012.

The 46-year-old Barbosa did his best work at the beginning of the fight, working the body effectively to set up the overhand right, which was his best punch in the early rounds. Barbosa fatigued toward the end, but his experience and ring generalship carried him down the stretch as he held off a late rally by Cronin for a 57-57, 59-55, 59-55 decision on the scorecards.

Cruiserweights Omar Acosta (1-6-1) of Hereford, TX, and Chad Leoncello (0-0-1) of Brockton, MA, fought to a draw thanks in large part to Acosta losing in a point in the final round for continuously spitting out his mouthpiece. Acosta knocked Leoncello to the canvas in the second round and had the fight in hand, but Callas took a point away when Acosta lost his mouthpiece for the fourth time, momentarily delaying the action. The final scores were 38-36 in favor of Acosta and 37-37 twice.

In other preliminary action, New Bedford, MA, super lightweight Wilson Mascarenhas (3-1) won his third consecutive bout, outworking previously-unbeaten Sedalia, MO, native Jose Zaragoza (2-1) by unanimous decision, 39-37 on all three scorecards and Everett, MA lightweight Shayna Fappiano (2-0-1) returned strong in her first fight in more than a year with a 40-36, 39-37, 38-38 unanimous decision win over debut Raquel Santos (0-1).


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