This past Saturday night in Worcester, Massachusetts, at The Palladium the sport of boxing saw it’s return in front of a nearly sold out crowd. The event that was promoted by Rivera Promotions Entertainment and Shearns Boxing Promotions featured 10 fights with many of the New England’s brightest rising stars taking center stage. Boxing fans were hungry for some fight action and saw a bit of everything and were brought to a standing ovation with one fighter’s ring performance.
Richie “Popeye the Sailor” Rivera returned to the ring with an exciting first round stoppage win over “Gatti” Berrospe Rivas (11-18, 6 KOs). The end came at 2:16 of the first round after a left hook to the body put Rivas down for the count. Rivera moved his record to 20-0 with 15 KOs and picked up the vacant NBA Intercontinental cruiserweight title. On The Ropes Boxing had a chance to speak to Richie after his win and get his post fight thoughts and his future plans. Here is what he had to say.
Q: Richie, you just scored an impressive KO win in front of all your fans, what did you think of your performance?
Richie Rivera: I feel great, of course there are always things you could do in the ring to improve your performance, but I think we got in there, we got the job done and we gave the crowd a good show. I’m happy, I’m pleased.
Q: Let’s talk about your future, what do you see for yourself out there?
Richie Rivera: The future, it’s bright, real bright. For “Popeye the Sailor Man” I’m talking green, spinach, WBO, WBC, I need those green belts and they’re coming real soon.
Q: Any names you are looking to call out? Who would you like to face in the near future?
Richie Rivera: I definitely want to fight Badou Jack, I think he definitely is someone I could make a real statement out of. Obviously we’re in this game to come out wealthy, if Canelo Alvarez wants to see me, I’ll drop down to 168. If anybody knows me, I’ll fight 168, 175, cruiserweight, heavyweight. I’ve show up for 168 all the way to heavyweight, size don’t matter, it’s if you can fight.
Q: Fans really seems to like the Popeye outfit, can you talk about your marketability going forward?
Richie Rivera: They love Popeye! They love that spinach, It is what it is. I’m just blessed, I can’t even explain how good I feel, this belt is going in the car seat!
The 10 fight card also featured many rising stars from the area, with official results coming from Full court press.
Undefeated heavyweight Cassius “C.O.G.” Chaney (21-0, 14 KOs), promoted by Main Events, won a 10-round unanimous decision over game Shawndell Terell Winters (13-6, 12 KOs), a former NAB heavyweight champion, in the main event.Chaney, fighting out of New London (CT), was a standout college basketball player at the University of New Haven. Neither fighter was hurt during the fight, although three consecutive rights from Chaney in the third round did buzz Winters
Puerto Rico Olympian Enrique Collazo (16-1-1, 11 KOs) registered knockdowns in the third and fourth rounds, the latter from a vicious body shot that hurt Colombian Ronald Montes (18-14, 16 KOs) so severely he was able to continue in round five. Collazo was crowned the NBA Intercontinental super middleweight title holder.
Puerto Rico-native Wilfredo “El Sucaro” Pagan (6-1-1, 3 KOs), fighting out of nearby Southbridge (MA), and Bridgeport’s (CT) Carlos Marrera, III (2-6-2) fought to an entertaining 6-round draw in their battle for the vacant New England Junior Welterweight Championship. The momentum moved from one fighter to the other in each round in what was the Fight of the Night.
Worcester heavyweight Bryan Daniels (6-1, 4 KOs) defeated Corey Morey (1-5), who injured his left knee and unable to continue fighting. The fight was ruled a first-round TKO win for Daniels, who is a 2-time New England Golden Gloves champion.
Fighting for the first time in 3 ½ years, Worcester super middleweight Bobby “BH3” Harris (3-0-1,) worked off the rust against wild-swinging Honduran Juan Celin Zapata (6-19-2, 4 KOs) for a 4-round unanimous decision. Harris is a two-time national amateur champion and World Games Silver medalist.
Hometown favorite Demek “Hightower” Edmunds (3-0, 2 KOs), a 3-time New England Golden Gloves champion, was tested for the first time by Brazilian heavyweight Rafael De Souza (0-2). The final score (40-36 X 3) was not indicative of the competition, in which Edmunds pitched a shutout, but De Souza held his own for two rounds until college graduate Edmunds took total command in the third and fourth rounds.
Decorated Hartford amateur Angel “Set It Off” Gonzalez (5-0, 3 KOs) overcame a significant height disadvantage against his Hawaiian opponent, Richard “Hard To Hit” Bernard (1-4-1), for a hard-fought 4-round unanimous decision victory. Gonzalez is a 3-time New England Golden Gloves, 2-time Ringside Nationals and 2014 National PAL champion.
Worcester middleweight Eslih Owusu (5-0, 3 KOs) remained undefeated, decking journeyman Carlos Galindo (1-17) twice when the fight was stopped by the referee midway through the opening bell.
Promising junior middleweight Josniel “TG” Castro (4-0, 2 KOs), fighting out of Boca Raton (FL), pounded Anthony Everett (1-9) from the opening bell until the end, using crisp combination to drop Everett twice en route to a 4-round unanimous decision (40-34 X 3).