He’s dealt with losses in and out of the ring. He’s had to listen to outsiders question whether or not he’s got what it takes to make it in the sport of boxing. The road has been bumpy at times, but Kevin Cobbs is living proof that all roads eventually lead home.
“Sometimes you’ve got to go left,” Cobbs said, “to find out you should’ve taken the right turn.”
More than five years since his professional debut, the Willimantic, Conn., native may have finally found the path worth traveling.
With a new team behind him and a fresh outlook on his career, the 6-foot-2 Cobbs (10-2, 4 KOs) returns to the ring Friday, July 15th, 2016 to challenge undefeated Angel Camacho Jr. (15-0, 5 KOs) of Providence for Camacho’s Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) International and New England Light Heavyweight Titles in the 10-round main event of CES Boxing’s stacked summer fight card at Twin River Casino.
Coming off a loss in January on national television, Cobbs, 32, is wasting no time jumping back into the mix. Training out of George Foreman III’s Everybody Fights fitness gym in Boston (formerly known as The Club), where he also works as a personal trainer, Cobbs has surrounded himself with a new team that includes Foreman, trainer Chris Daveiga, strength coach Kirby Espinal and at least one familiar face in trainer / advisor Israel Santiago, who has been with him since Day 1.
“He’s family,” Cobbs said of Santiago. “He always will be.”
Rather than work his way back into contention slowly, Cobbs instead decided to end his two-year absence from Twin River against arguably the toughest light heavyweight in the region in Camacho, who has beaten everyone in his path since returning to prominence late in 2014. It’s a fight Cobbs has lobbied for since Camacho knocked out Rich Gingras last September.
“In this area I really, really think I’m one of the top light heavyweights, period,” Cobbs said. “Some of the guys that have the belt or had an opportunity to fight for the belt and were called the best light heavyweights in the area, they never fought me. Technically, I strongly believe if you are the best you have to fight everyone to be the best.”
Cobbs faced one of the best in January in red-hot prospect David Benavidez on a night when he admittedly wasn’t at his best. Problems with his training camp, coupled with a difficult weight cut to 170 pounds, a weight he hadn’t fought at since 2011, reached a boiling point on fight night when a mentally and physically drained Cobbs absorbed a second-round knockout loss on FOX Sports 1, the biggest fight of his career to date.
“I honestly feel like I was talked into that one really bad,” Cobbs said. “A lot of things didn’t play into my favor, like coming into my dressing room and telling me I’ve got 15 minutes before I’m on, but beforehand being told I’m the second to last fight when it takes 15 minutes just to wrap your hands alone.
“I walked out to that fight cold and I walked out to that fight under weight because I had never been there. I walked out to that fight weak. It just wasn’t me.”
Mired in a tug-of-war between remaining loyal to his camp and doing what was best for himself, Cobbs eventually decided it was time to reboot and invest in those who’d invest as much time into him.
“Deep down inside, I felt like something just doesn’t feel right, you know? It really eats at you mentally, but the thing you’re taught and you always grow up with is loyalty,” he said. “Family first. Just sticking by people instead of sometimes you have to think about you. It really does eat at you because sometimes I’ll stay somewhere and not leave because of my loyalty. Then it’ll run me into the ground instead of stepping up and doing what I’ve got to do for myself.
“This time around, I literally shut everyone and everything and did things myself.”
Cobbs’ new boxing family at Everybody Fights has helped restore the feeling he first felt more than a decade ago when he stepped into the ring as an amateur fighting out of Burlington, Vt., one of many stops along the way on his wild journey.
“There’s so much knowledge coming through this building,” Cobbs said. “Now I’ve got my own personal trainer, conditioning and strength, nutrition — everything is right here at home. It feels good. I don’t have to search for help anymore. You know me. I was always searching for help and trying to find where I’m supposed to be. Even with a great trainer, one thing I’ve learned is that even if they’re a great trainer, they still might not be for you.”
Now he’s less than three weeks away from the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to reestablish his footing as one of the top fighters in the region after more than two years away from his second home at Twin River.
“That’s why we really wanted to figure out how to get back inside that arena and really start being with the fans, with the people that love me most. It just feels good to be back over there,” he said.
“You’ve got to imagine I’ve been wanting this fight for so long, so there are no real nerves mentally. The only nerves that might come are from stepping in that arena where my career started, which I can break once I get out there and see some familiar faces.
“This is my way of proving that when things are done right you can really come out on top. I know Angel is a great fighter, but I really do believe that when my training is consistent we really have a great opportunity to bring back that belt. No matter what happens, I’m bringing my best that day. I can tell you that much.”
The Camacho-Cobbs main event is one of three title fights July 15th; Cranston, R.I., super lightweight Nick DeLomba (9-1, 2 KOs) makes the first defense of his New England Title in a six-round bout against Oscar Bonilla (3-1-2) of Bridgeport, Conn.; and Thomas Falowo (14-3, 8 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., the reigning New England Middleweight Champion, returns to Twin River for the first time in more than two years and puts his belt on the line in an eight-round rematch against Jersey City, N.J., slugger Chris Chatman (13-5-1, 5 KOs), who beat Falowo at Twin River in 2013.
Tickets for the event are priced at $42.00, $67.00, $102.00 and $152.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
July 15th also features the return of newly-crowned World Boxing Council (WBC) Female Middleweight World Champion Kali Reis (9-5-1), who captured the belt in April in New Zealand, in an eight-round bout against Atlantic City vet Althea Saunders (3-2-2), plus lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (1-0, 1 KO) and middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr. (1-0, 1 KO), both from Worcester, Mass., and the professional debut of New London, Conn., welterweight Cristobal Marrero.
Also on the undercard, Ray Oliviera Jr. (4-0, 1 KO) of New Bedford, Mass., battles Worcester’s Andy Gonzalez (3-0, 3 KOs) in a four-round junior middleweight attraction featuring two undefeated New England fighters.