One of the most popular New England boxing prospects, undefeated Hartford (CT) light heavyweight Richard "Popeye The Sailor Man" Rivera (5-0, 4 KOs), will headline his third show Saturday night, February 10, at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In the fifth installment of the "New England's Future" series, presented by Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE), the 27-year-old Rivera meets Kevin "KRAY 2 UNKL" Cobbs (10-2, 4 KOs), fighting out of Burlington (VT), for the vacant Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) New England title in the eight-round main event.
Rivera, who was a 2016 Rocky Marciano Tournament champion, is coming off a sensational second-round knockout of 146-fight veteran Roberto Valenzuela this past December 9 in Hampton, New Hampshire.
"I am excited to have Richie boxing for the UBF New England title so early in his pro career,"" said promoter Jose Antonio Rivera, the retired 3-time, 2-division world champion. "This is the third time we've had the privilege of him fighting on one of our cards. He fought in the main event of our last show (Oct.) at the DCU Center. Rivera looks better and sharper every time I watch him fight. I see big things coming for him. He has the tools and discipline a trainer looks for and a boxer needs to become world champion. The sky is the limit for Richard and, for now, we're grateful to play a small part to help develop his professional career."
Rivera has successfully marketed his Popeye persona during his young pro boxing career, wearing a sailor's cap into the ring with a traditional Popeye-like pipe dangling in his mouth. "There are several reasons for my nickname, 'Popeye', but when I was very young," Rivera explained, "I had abnormally large forearms. It just stuck with me through the years, when people referred to me in the gym, so I've run with it. I'm bringing life back to Hartford with patience, all over New England, with patience, perseverance and style. I live in the moment."
Although he didn't win many major awards or tournaments as an amateur boxer, Rivera gained invaluable experience boxing many of the best amateurs in New England and in national events, as well as sparring with the likes of former world champions Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin, Chad Dawson and Joe Smith, Jr. He also learned from time spent in the ring with former title challengers Israel "Pito" Cardona and John Scully.
"I took my time turning pro because I didn't have a support system to get me to the next level," Rivera noted. "I was insecure. The positive feedback I received from fighters I sparred fed into my confidence. Now, in only my sixth pro fight, I will be headlining for the third time, and fighting for my first title. I can't thank the Riveras (Jose and his son, A.J.) enough for what they've done for me. They've believed in me."
At first, Rivera was somewhat reluctant to fight the more experienced Cobb but, after doing some research, he accepted the challenge. "I was a little nervous at first," he admitted. "Some were questioning if I was ready to step up to fight him. I did some research: he didn't have a bigger amateur career, or fought more six or eight rounds fights than me. And I was the sparring partner for the first pro to beat him, Tyron Burris (TKO2 in 2012). I'm ready! I'm 27 and need a fight like this."
Worcester's two-time national amateur champion Bobby "BH3" Harris, III meets Brazilian middleweight Saul Almeida (0-8-1) in the four-round co-featured event.
Fighting on the undercard, all in four-round bouts, are rising New Haven (CT) super middleweight prospect Elvis Figueroa (3-0, 1 KO), a three-time USA Boxing Nationals Championship gold medalist, vs. TBA, Worcester featherweight Ranse Andino (1-0) vs. Alex Montes (1-2-1), of Lawrence (MA), Danbury (CT) welterweight Omar Bordoy, Jr. (2-0) vs. Puerto Rican invader Alexander "El Bravo" Picot (2-4-1), Southbridge (MA) welterweight Wilfredo "El Sucaro" Pagan (3-0, 1 KO) vs. pro-debuting Nick Peralta, of Lawrence, undefeated Springfield (MA) light heavyweight Ray "Bazooka" Graceski (5-0, 3 KOs). vs. Hartford's pro-debuting Paul Bansiak, Hartford junior middleweight Jose "Rated R" Rivera (4-1, 3 KOs) vs. Troy "Omar KO Artist" Artis (4-7-1 (3 KOs), Springfield welterweight Derrick "Double Impact" Whitley (2-0) vs. Roger Blankenship (1-2), undefeated Puerto Rican middleweight Jelame Garcia (6-0, 6 KOs) vs. Brazilian Rodrigo Almeida 1-7), Meriden (CT) bantamweight James Aquino (6-0, 6 KOs), 2016 New England Golden Gloves champion, vs. Luis Rivera (3-3) and Hartford's pro-debuting welterweight Joseph Goss vs. Seth Basler (0-3).
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets, priced at $75.00 (ringside) and $45.00 (general admission), are on sale and available to purchase at www.ThePalladium.net or the Palladium box office (general admission only), or by contacting Jose Rivera (email@example.com/508.864.6954), AJ Rivera (firstname.lastname@example.org/774.272.2269) or any of the fighters.
Doors open at 6 p.m. ET, first bout 7 p.m. ET.