PROVIDENCE – Middleweight contender Peter “The Pride of Providence” Manfredo, Jr. had a ringside seat in MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods last Saturday night to witness the superlative performance turned in by WBC Emeritus and The Ring 160-pound champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, who dropped previously unbeaten WBO junior welterweight titlist Sergiy “Razor” Dzinziruk five times en route to a major statement-victory by eighth-round knockout.
Manfredo (37-6, 20 KOs), arguably the leading American middleweight challenger, is riding a six-fight win streak since losing to super middleweight Saki Bika in 2008. The star of The Contender, Season One is currently rated No. 7 by the IBF and No. 9 by the WBC.
Now working fulltime as a laborer at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, ironically, where he headlined four major shows, Manfredo dreams of fighting Martinez there this summer. The popular Italian-American boxer is like a modern-day Rocky with a twist: Peter’s not breaking legs but he is sweeping floors to provide for his family.
“Martinez is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, right up there with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather,” Manfredo said. “Imagine me fighting him at The Dunk where I headlined shows and now work? That would be straight out of Hollywood! I know fight fans in Providence would give him a royal welcome. He would definitely be a tough fight for me and I’d be an underdog, but I’ve put myself in a challenger’s position the past two years, and I want a shot at the best. Getting a fight against Martinez is what fighters dream about, especially at home, and I’ve worked hard the past two years to get to this point. Hey, this is boxing and nothing’s written in stone; it only takes one shot to change the world. That’s boxing, and maybe I land an old Micky Ward shot to the body, and my life would be changed.
“Opportunities to fight somebody like Martinez don’t come around every day. Now is the right time for me. I’d be honored to get in the ring to fight him. I know I can compete with him. Like (Vinny) Paz says, ‘Fight or die.’ Styles make fights and this would be a very entertaining match-up. I’m a classic boxer-puncher and he’s a very fast, awkward fighter who seems to have found his power in the last few fights. Sergio keeps his hands down and bobs his head. Boxers aren’t taught to do that but he can because he’s so good. Martinez reminds me of Roy Jones. I’ve proven myself and want to get it on with Martinez.”
Manfredo has the proper pedigree, as an amateur and pro, in addition to possibly having a strength advantage versus Martinez, who has moved-up from junior middleweight, while Manfredo dropped down from 168. Three of Manfredo’s six career losses have been against much larger super middleweights – Joe Calzaghe in their WBO title fight, former world champ Jeff Lacy, and Bika.
During his 10 ½ year career, Manfredo has defeated world champion Frankie Randall, The Contender 2 winner Grady Brewer, previously unbeaten prospect Sherwin Davis, world title challengers Scott Pemberton and Alfonso Gomez, and present WBA No. 6 rated light heavyweight Joey Spina.
“I have valuable experience against great champions like Martinez,” Manfredo added. “I went through the whole thing with Calzaghe and learned a valuable lesson. I won’t make those mistakes again. I’m experienced fighting super middleweights, who were too big for me, but I’m a real middleweight. I’ll go for broke against Martinez, if given the opportunity, because I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”