Fast rising featherweight prospect Irvin Gonzalez (4-0, 4 KOs) will continue Worcester’s rich boxing tradition Thursday night, January 19, headlining the inaugural “New England’s Future” series event against Mexican invader Israel “Tigre” Rojas (9-14, 3 KOs), at the Worcester Palladium.
Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE), is promoting the first professional boxing show in the Central Massachusetts city in more than five years.
Worcester’s boxing tradition started close to a century ago with Canadian import Lou Brouillard, a two-division world champion and Hall of Famer, 1928 Olympic bronze medalist Leo Sawicki, and more recently, among others, pro and amateur standouts such as multiple national amateur champion Bobby Harris, Sean “The Irish Express” Sean Fitzgerald and Edwin Rodriguez.
Arguably the greatest Worcester fighter in the past 50 years is three-time, two-division world champion Jose Antonio “El Gallo” Rivera, who is promoting “New England’s Future” with his son, Anthonee. “I have seen Irvin train and fight since he was in the Junior Olympics,” Rivera said. “I am very proud of him because he was able to discover on his own that he was getting in his own way. He was always a talented fighter but, at times in the ring, he was inconsistent and it cost him a few fights. As he got older, he boxed more talented boxers and looked good against them. He started believing in himself more and it showed in his training. His abilities and confidence grew and that got him all the way to the Olympic Trials. I feel he has the skills to become world champion in the future. The sky is the limit for this young man and I am proud to have him fighting on our show.”
Gonzalez, a 2015 New England Golden Gloves champion, will be headlining his first show in his first scheduled six-round bout. “Fighting in my hometown in the main event means a lot to me because,” Gonzalez admitted. “I’ve grown up in this city, fighting my whole life, and of people who’ve supported me will be watching me fight for the first time as a pro. I’m excited. I’m comfortable fighting here in Worcester and I want to showcase the boxing talent we have in Worcester.”
Gonzalez qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials but he was eliminated, not due to a loss in the ring, for missing weight. He decided not to wait four years for another Olympic shot, turning pro this past March with a first-round stoppage of Gilvan Santos at Foxwoods Resort Casino. In four pro fights to date, Gonzalez has four knockouts and only one was extended into the second round.
“I was always told that I had a pro boxing style,” the well-spoken, handsome Gonzalez continued, “but we didn’t immediately decide to turn pro until the time was right. I had some stoppages as an amateur but, as a pro, I’ve been going more to the body. I do have heavy hands. I don’t go into a fight looking for a knockout. I just let ’em come but I’ve prepared to go six rounds if needed for this fight. I’ve been sparring eight rounds with different guys coming in fresh.”
In addition to being a prize fighter, the 20-year-old Gonzalez works at a bank and he also owns and operates New England Boxing gym with his father, former boxer Irvin Gonzalez, where the youngster serves as a personal trainer.
In the six-round co-feature Springfield (MA) light heavyweight Reinaldo “Bazooka” Graceski (4-0, 2 KOs) faces Worcester’s Ralph Johnson (2-9, 1 KO).
Fighting on the undercard in four-round bouts are Worcester junior lightweight Ranse Andino in his pro debut vs. Lowell’s (MA) Jonathan Perez (2-0-1, 2 KOs), pro-debuting Worcester heavyweight Felix Martinez vs. Bobby Favor (0-3), Hartford’s (CT) pro-debuting light heavyweight Richard “Popeye The Sailor Man” Rivera vs. Brockton’s (MA) Davonte Hopkins (0-2), pro-debuting Southbridge (MA) boxer Wilfredo Pagan vs. Alexander Picot (1-1-1, 0 KOs) at a 145-pound catchweight, pro-debuting Springfield (MA) junior featherweight Luis “Pancho” Santiago vs, Jonathan Ramos (0-2), 2016 N.E. Golden Gloves champion Anthony Laureano (1-0), of East Haven (CT), vs. Boston junior welterweight Rafael Francis (0-8), Auburn (MA) junior middleweight “Irish” Chuck Shearns (2-1, 1 KO), the 49-year-old hanging up his gloves after his fight with Shavonte Dixon (0-1), of Philadelphia, Saugus (MA) light heavyweight Brandon Montella (5-0, 4 KOs) vs. Roberto El Viejo” Valenzuela (69-73-2, 56 KOs) and unbeaten Lawrence (MA) heavyweight Jean Pierre Augstin (7-0-1, 3 KOs) vs. Jose Hymberto “Olympico” Corral (19-22, 12 KOs).
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets, priced at $65.00 (ringside), $45.00 (preferred seating) and $35.00 (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 (firstname.lastname@example.org/508.864.6954), AJ Rivera (email@example.com/774.272.2269) of any of the fighters. A portion of the proceeds will go to Why Me & Sherry’s House.