Moments after Chris Chatman beat Thomas Falowo at Twin River Casino in 2013, Chatman promised the then 24-year-old Falowo he’d give him a second chance at beating him in his own backyard.
“‘Anytime you want it, Thomas, you can get it,'” Chatman said. “‘If you want a rematch, I’m here.'”
True to his word, the outspoken Chatman (13-5-1, 5 KOs) returns for an encore performance Friday, July 15th, 2016 in a highly anticipated rematch against the Pawtucket, R.I., native Falowo (14-3, 8 KOs), eight rounds at Twin River for Falowo’s New England Middleweight Title on the undercard of the Angel Camacho Jr.-Kevin Cobbs light heavyweight championship bout, presented by CES Boxing.
Nearly three years to the date of his hard-fought win over Falowo, the Jersey City, N.J., vet fights in Rhode Island for the seventh time and is confident as ever coming off a win against another hometown favorite, Vladine Biosse, in July of 2015.
“I’m a very competitive guy,” Chatman said. “I don’t even like people walking past me on the sidewalk. I speed up. I’m very competitive. I’m going to come in here the same way I did last time. I beat Thomas before, and I’m going to beat him again.”
Both sides remember the first fight well. Falowo scored a controversial knockdown early in the fourth round. Chatman thought he slipped, but referee Eddie Claudio began counting as he hit the canvas.
“He tied it up with that knockdown,” Chatman said, “even though he stepped on my foot.”
Seconds later, Chatman answered with an overhand right to the temple that sent Falowo to the canvas and left him noticeably off balance as he climbed to his feet. The shift in momentum carried Chatman through the middle rounds before a late surge by Falowo closed the gap. Chatman won unanimously, 77-75 on all three scorecards.
“That was a turning point,” Chatman said. “The momentum was back in my corner and I knew I could hurt him. That’s a big thing when you realize you can hurt another fighter.”
Falowo rebounded in 2014 with back-to-back wins at Twin River before making his network television debut on Showtime against Romanian super middleweight Ronald Gavril in August.
A year later, he developed another rival in previously unbeaten Maine native Russell Lamour, whom he defeated twice, including a second victory in November at the Expo Center in Portland for the then vacant N.E. title.
Next Friday will be his first fight at Twin River since June of 2014 when he knocked out Jose Rivera in the opening round of a scheduled six-round middleweight bout.
“The only advantage I have is that I feel like I’ve progressed and I’m a much better fighter than I was the last time I fought him,” Falowo said. “Before, I was kid, but I’m a much different man now, so it’s going to be a whole different story.
“I’m a little more composed and I have my legs under me better than I did before. I’m just mentally stronger. I’ve been in tough fights. Even then, I was in tough fights, but I’m mentally stronger and more aware of where I’m at. Overall, I just feel I’m a better fighter than I was then.”
After beating Falowo, Chatman nearly pitched a shutout against former The Contender star Grady Brewer before moving up to super middleweight to challenge Camacho and Biosse at Twin River. He lost to Camacho, a fight he agreed to take on two week’s notice when he was out of work and behind on rent, before outworking Biosse last July in a unanimous decision win.
The fight against Brewer was his first with his current trainer Tony Baldwin, but not much else has changed for Chatman. He still carries the same unwavering intensity and trademark glare he introduced in 2009 when he fought Demetrius Andrade, as evident by the animosity he held toward Biosse before the fight last year.
Notwithstanding his occasional animated speeches at pre-fight weigh-ins, Chatman has actually toned it down in recent years, a sign of maturity under his new coach.
“A lot of times I’d get there and say, ‘Fuck this shit, I’m gonna win,’ and now with my new coach, it’s taken me like a year or two to settle into his style, but I’m pretty sure the last you fight you saw with me and Vladine I was way more precise,” Chatman said. “I was fast when I needed to and more calculated.
“I had animosity toward Vla, but I didn’t let that show in the fight. I was very poised and stayed calm the whole time. I didn’t let that lead me to a point where I was out of control, but I brought the right intensity you need to bring, the intensity to win, not like, ‘I don’t like this dude,’ but the intensity to win.
“I’m more confident now because I consider myself a more patient fighter. I’m a little less reckless. It’s more about doing what I need to do to win and not just about anteing up punches and tying people down. That’s something I’m bringing to this fight.”
Falowo insists he, too, is a smarter, more poised fighter now than he was three years ago, plus he’ll have the benefit of the hometown crowd at Twin River, an advantage he hasn’t experienced in more than two years.
What happens when the bell rings is anyone’s guess, but if the Falowo-Chatman rematch is anything like the first fight, it has the potential to once again steal the show next Friday.
“I’ve been getting a lot of support and a lot of love from people who have been waiting to see me fight around here for a while,” Falowo said. “Everyone always gets to see me on social media and stay updated, but there’s nothing like a night out at the fights. I’m looking forward to coming home and having my crowd support me instead of going into hostile territory against other guys.
“It’s just a different feel. It’s a good feeling to be back home and have that hometown support. Once I’m in the ring, I do what I have to do to win, but I always have that extra oomph, that extra drive with the crowd cheering me on. It always drives me a little more.”
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.
Camacho (15-0, 5 KOs), the undefeated Providence native, puts his Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) International and New England Light Heavyweight Titles on the line in the 10-round main event against the Willimantic, Conn., vet Cobbs (10-2, 4 KOs). The third title fight of the night takes place in the super lightweight division as 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.
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 middleweight Kendrick Ball Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) and lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (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.