Fred Jenkins, Jr., who has labored in anonymity for six years as a pro, and Roque Zapata, a virtual unknown who upset the apple cart two months ago in Philadelphia, collide March 10 at the 2300 Arena in a six-round junior middleweight fight with career implications for each man.
Topping the nine-bout card is an eight-round all-Philadelphia lightweight contest between Anthony Burgin and Avery Sparrow. First fight begins at 7.30 pm.
Jenkins, 30, turned pro in early in 2011. He has compiled a 10-3 record with 3 K0s. His biggest win came in 2014 when he knocked out Jeremy Trussell, of Baltimore, MD, in two rounds at the 2300 Arena. Trussell was 8-1-1 at the time.
In his last fight Oct. 14 in the same ring, Jenkins outpointed Ibrihim Shabazz, of Newark, NJ, over four rounds. He also has beaten James Robinson, of York, PA, and he lost to undefeated fighters: Jeff Lentz, of Lanoka Harbor, NJ, and Ismael Garcia, of Vineland, NJ. He has been stopped once.
“I had about 50 amateur fights,” said Jenkins (left), who is 5-foot-7. “The heaviest I ever was in the amateurs was 215 pounds, but there were times around 2008 or 2009 when I was not training that I went up to 275.”
When he turned pro in 2011, Jenkins was as heavy as 174.
“I was working back then and I didn’t have a lot of time to train,” Jenkins said. “I worked for a railroad company in King of Prussia (PA) and my job was to drive people to and from work. I also worked for a paratransit company, driving elderly people and disabled people. Sometimes I was in the gym and sometimes not. I was taking fights at heavier weights “
Jenkins was in the house Dec. 2 when Zapata out-pointed Isaiah Wise.
“Zapata throws a lot of punches and he simply tries to outwork you,” Jenkins said. “But when I start banging him in the body and going to his ribs, I don’t think he’ll be throwing that many punches afterward. He’s also smaller than I am (5-foot-6 compared to 5-foot-7) and that doesn’t happen too often with me. I’m coming to win and I’m going to do everything I can to get there.”
Jenkins is managed and trained by his dad, Fred Jenkins, Sr., a member of the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame.
Zapata (right), 21, of Culpeper, VA, traveled to the 2300 Arena on Dec. 2 and upset previously unbeaten (3-0) Wise, of Philadelphia, in what could have been the most action-packed four rounds of 2016 locally.
A pro less than one year, Zapata squeezed all six fights (2-1-3 record) into 2016, fighting opponents with good records, mostly in their backyards. He has boxed once in Virginia, five times in Pennsylvania and he also upset then-unbeaten (5-0) Dan Karpency, of Adah, PA, over four rounds last April in Washington, PA.
Zapata’s only setback was via six-round decision to unbeaten (6-0) Amonte Eberhardt, also in Washington, PA.
“I came into Philly on December 2 as an outcast and that night all I wanted was the respect of the Philly fans,” Zapata said. “I knew I had to prove to myself and to the Philly fans that I belong there with the hometown guys. I’m going to bring it every time. I feel I have not got the respect of the Philly fans, so that being said, on March 10 I am going to fight Fred Jenkins and I’m gonna do my absolute best to show the fans that I’m not a bum looking for paycheck but that I was born to do this and be the best at it.
“My career progress I would say is good even though I have one loss and three draws. All my fights were tough. Amonte Eberhardt is the only guy who beat me and I took that fight on one day’s notice and I had to cut 13 pounds and I fought six hard rounds even though I was dehydrated. This is no excuse but I believe if I had an eight-week camp (it would have been different). I was robbed in those three draws. I have watched them over and over and I cannot believe how the judges scored the way they did but that’s what happens when you fight hometown guys sometimes, but life goes on.
“Returning to Philadelphia to fight on a great card with good upcoming prospects is amazing.”
The Burgin-Sparrow and Jenkins-Zapata fights top a nine-bout card at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. First fight is 7.30 pm. Tickets are priced at $40, $50 and $75 and they are on sale at the offices of Peltz Boxing (215-765-0922) and at www.2300Arena.com. The card is being promoted by Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc., BAM Boxing and Joe Hand Promotions. It will be streamed live by www.gfl.com and televised on delay by Comcast SportsNet.