The undercard for Jimmy Burchfield’s “Up For Grabs” professional boxing event at Twin River Casino on Thursday, May 24, 2012 is beginning to take shape, and several of the featured bouts could steal the show from the highly-anticipated main event between Joey Spina and Vladine Biosse.
The most notable bout is the six-round super middleweight co-feature between hometown favorites Richard “Bobo The Bull” Starnino (9-7-2, 2 KOs) of Providence and Warwick, R.I., veteran Keith Kozlin (6-3-1, 4 KOs), who is looking to end a stretch of three consecutive fights without a win.
“He’s hungry,” said Starnino, who celebrated his 40th birthday Tuesday. “He needs this as much as I do.”
“Up For Grabs” also features the return of former reality television star Richard Gingras (11-2, 7 KOs) of “The Contender,” who, after signing a promotional agreement with Classic Entertainment & Sports, will battle Terrance Smith Jr. (7-13-2, 4 KOs) of Oklahoma City in the six-round cruiserweight special attraction.
Unbeaten Burlington, Vt., super middleweight Kevin Cobbs (3-0, 1 KO) will face veteran Borngod Washington (3-10, 1 KO) of Queens, N.Y., in a four-round bout while female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (2-0) of Providence will battle newcomer Carmen Cruz of Fort Myers, Fla., in a four-round bout.
CES will also introduce another one of its most recent signings on May 24th when undefeated Medford, Oreg., heavyweight “Irish” Mike Wilson (5-0, 3 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time in 18 months in a four-round bout.
Super lightweight Zack Ramsey, a former national amateur champion from Springfield, Mass., will make his long-awaited debut while middleweight Thomas Falowo (6-0, 4 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., light heavyweight Alex Amparo (3-0, 2 KOs) of Providence, welterweight Diego Pereira (6-0-1, 2 KOs) and Woonsocket, R.I., middleweight Joe Gardner (8-4, 1 KO) will return to the ring in separate six-round bouts, with the exception of Gardner, who’ll fight in a four-rounder.
The main event is an eight-round intrastate battle between Biosse (12-1-1, 6 KOs) and Spina (26-2-2, 18 KOs) for Biosse’s New England super middleweight title.
The card is stacked from top to bottom with the region’s most sought-after talent with the co-feature between Starnino and Kozlin looming as a potential showstopper. According to Kozlin, it’s a battle between two fighters with similar styles, who, simply put, “go forward and punch.” The only difference is Starnino’s experience, which could be the deciding factor.
“There’s nothing spectacular about him,” Starnino said. “He comes straight at you.
“The toughest part for me is that at my age I’m in a fight against myself to get back to the level where I once was. I’m pretty close. For me to get ready to fight these young bucks, I’ve got to train twice as hard as everyone else. I do three sessions a day; I run, go to the gym, and then I go to the boxing gym. I’m strong, physically, but my speed and timing is what I’m fighting against.”
Like Kozlin, Starnino is looking to turn the corner after losing to unbeaten prospect Ryan McKenzie in January – Starnino’s fourth loss in his last fight fights dating back to 2008. Coincidentally, May 24th is the four-year anniversary of Starnino’s last win – a third-round knockout against Richard Royal on May 23rd, 2008 – and “Bobo The Bull” plans on celebrating with a much-needed victory now that he’s fighting on more even terms.
“The kid McKenzie was 6-foot-3,” Starnino said. “I don’t do well against taller fighters because I like to fight on the inside. It’s harder for me to do that against taller fighters because they like to fight on the outside. Keith is an inside fighter, too, and once I get hit I throw the game plan out the window.
“That’s why they call me ‘The Bull.’ I just go right at you. It’s going to be a good fight.”
This won’t be the first time two exchange blows, though it will be the first time it counts; when Kozlin began boxing professionally four years ago, he and Starnino trained at the same gym. They actually sparred against one another.
“He was one of the guys we used to beat up on,” Starnino said with a laugh. “The kid can take a beating. I used to wail on him. He got a lot better through the years. He’s got some skills, but skills can only take you so far.”
This time, it counts, and neither fighter is taking anything for granted on the 24th.
“He was the man at the gym,” Kozlin recalled. “I have a lot of respect for him, but I have to win this fight.”
Tickets for “Up For Grabs” are $35.00, $50.00, $75.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.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.
Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Up For Grabs.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.