by B.A. Cass
By the time the main event began at just after 11 PM, the crowd at the Foxwood’s Fox Theater had already thinned out. It had been a long night. They had already seen Ireland’s Raymond Moylette win a split decision over Donte Bryant. Next came the pro debuts of Nicholas DeQuattro and Timothy Wheeler. This brief clash made me wonder if both men had prepared for the fight by wearing fake antlers because came at each other headfirst, like woodland beasts. When DeQuattro, a Rhode Island native, scored a second-round knockout, the local crowd got to its feet, and it was hard not to be swept up by their emotion.
Photo Credit: Ed Diller / DiBella Entertianment
The fight between Adrian Sosa and Francisco Medel was a clear mismatch. Medel walked to the ring draped in an old brown towel. Perhaps it had sentimental value, but it made it seem, right from the start, that he was a poor man come for a paycheck. And he looked vastly out of shape when compared to Sosa, who won via a third-round stoppage by the judge. Sosa, a bit of a showboat, could be seen weaving close to the camera before the fight began and did the same to intimidate his opponent when the judge had them touch gloves. After the fight, Sosa donned a ridiculous robe. He then asked for the microphone and awkwardly thanked Lou DiBella for the chance to prove himself. It’s odd to see the sycophantic so closely paired with the egomaniacal, but Sosa had both on display Friday night.
Next came Ievgen Khytrov vs. Derrick Findley, a man who has lost by decision to some decent talent. Derrick tired towards the end, but the younger Khytrov had to exert himself to score a win by UD. Derrick is one of those journeymen who constantly loses and who, at the same time, never quite meets defeat. He deserves respect for that, at the very least.
The most exciting part of the undercard was seeing19-year-old “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams in his face-off against Evincii Dixon. Mykquan’s arms and short dreads twitched as he set up shot after shot. Reminiscent of a young Andre Ward in the way he goes to the body and how is always looking for a way in, Mykquan is a cerebral fighter who doesn’t lack for power or speed. He’s a boxer to follow
The real event of the evening, the fight that the majority of the people had come to see, was Shelley Vincent vs. Angel Gladney. Twelve out of the fifteen people I spoke with said they were there to root for Vincent. Women, men, children—so many people had come to see this five-foot tall, fast-talking boxer get back in the ring with a fighter she had faced earlier in her career. “We were both 118 then. We ain’t 118 anymore,” Vincent told me a week before the fight, laughing. “We’re fighting at 130 now. That’s the weight she could make. It’s way too big for me, but coming off the injury and not being able to train for the two months, it ended up being perfect.”
Vincent was supposed to return to the ring this past June, but she had to back out of the fight due to a car accident that left her with a severe concussion and a ruptured eardrum. And it appeared the time away had affected her, as the first round started off slowly. The crowd was quiet until a singular voice rang out clear above the mumblings: “Tear her a new asshole, Shelly!” Laughter broke out in certain parts of the room. But Vincent seemed to be stalling. She looked to the judge to see if he would make a call against Gladney. He did nothing, and Vincent stomped her foot twice, making the ring shake. “Just box!” Pete Manfredo Sr., Vincent’s trainer, called out. It’s not often you witness fighters yell across the ring to their trainers during a fight, but the always outspoken, always entertaining Vincent did. “She stepped on my foot,” she yelled defensively.
Shelly’s head just didn’t seem to be in the fight. She wasn’t engaging with Gladney. And worse, later in the round, she dropped her hands and stared down the judge as if it to intimidate him into making some kind of call against Gladney. That’s when Jen Salinas, a mother of four who knows how to deal with misbehavior, yelled out, “Focus, Shelley.”
Salinas knows Vincent as few do. They have been sparring partners, lovers, and, though the needs of career and family have separated them physically, they remain deeply connected and always work each other’s corners. Salinas’s words seemed to do the trick. Vincent emerged from that hesitant first round to become the dominant force in the ring, controlling the pace of the fight in her characteristic fashion, which is to say relentlessly. She might have finished Gladney off in the fourth round, if not for the sound of that two-minute bell. Gladney got through it, but the fight was never hers after that.
The main event was an evenly matched fight between Alexis Santos and Niall “Boom Boom” Kennedy. “That’s beu-ti-ful,” Kennedy’s countrymen kept screaming in their Irish brogue, no matter whether Boom Boom landed a punch or got hit. “That’s it! Get’m, Boom Boom!” At one point, Foxwoods security—men and women in cheap, oversized red sports jackets—had to prevent a small Irish contingent from approaching the ring after a vicious exchange between the two fighters. It was at this point that Santos looked back at the belligerent young Irishmen with a worried expression. The hostile, vocal opposition seemed to affect his performance negatively. Santos’ supporters, hailing mostly from the Lawrence area, were vocal though not quite as exuberant as Kennedy’s—at least not until the referee deducted a point from Santos for what he ruled a low blow. The referee also failed to acknowledge the fact that, in the last round, Boom Boom remained standing only with the aid of the ropes. That said, Boom Boom looked like the more collected, focused fighter throughout and because of it, he got a split decision win.
After the fight, when Boom Boom was being interviewed in the ring, the big man mentioned something about how his coach kept setting goalposts and how he kept surpassing them—the kind of forgettable phrase that you hear all too often from athletes. I couldn’t help but think how much more exciting it would be to see Shelly Vincent up there talking in front of the cameras. I’ve never heard her say a commonplace thing yet. She is fiercely intelligent, as aggressive and as wild with her words that she is with her fists. The next time I see her fight, I hope she’ll be the main event.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch