Kendrick Ball Jr. can’t quite explain why he feels the way he does about his upcoming opponent, Zachary Christy, but the fact Christy signed his name on the dotted line for April 7th has sent the 6-foot-2 Ball to a dark place most of his opponents haven’t lived to talk about.
Ball, in his own words, considers it “disrespectful,” as if Christy’s willingness to stand toe-to-toe with him next Friday coming off a two-year absence is some sort of backhanded compliment, a sign Christy thinks there’s a weakness he can exploit on fight night.
“I’m going to go out there and try to end it early,” said Ball, the 24-year-old Worcester, Mass., middleweight who boasts a 5-0-2 record with four knockouts entering April 7th. “I’ve got a little more motivation to go out there and give a good show.”
Ball and Christy (1-0-1) face off Friday, April 7th, 2017 in a six-round super middleweight bout on the undercard of CES Boxing’s second show of the year at Twin River Casino, headlined by the 10-round World Boxing Council (WBC) USNBC Welterweight Championship between Nick DeLomba (11-1, 2 KOs) and Jimmy Williams (12-0-1, 5 KOs).
Asked if Christy (1-0-1) may be overlooking him, Ball shrugged and said, “Maybe. I think so. Maybe a little bit,” his own uncertainty adding a whole other level of intrigue to next Friday’s bout.
Christy himself is as resilient as he is enigmatic, a 32-year-old U.S. Air Force vet who recently returned home to Warwick, R.I., following his sixth deployment to Afghanistan and 10th overall. He hasn’t fought since 2014 and is at a six-inch height disadvantage against the lean, lanky Ball, but cites his own experiences in and out of the ring, from sparring with world welterweight champion Keith Thurman to jumping out of airplanes on active duty, as the motivation that keeps him going despite the odds.
“I have had the privilege to see, do, and run toward things that would make many of the young men of today piss in their pants,” Christy said. “It’s true I’ve been deployed 10 times. I’ve jumped out of planes and helicopters, and strapped 100 pounds to my back and run for miles. I haven’t lost a fight in ten years. I’m 5-foot-6 and I’ve won amateur titles at heavyweight. I’ve run Olympic distance triathlons directly after returning from Afghanistan.
“I love disadvantages.”
The ultimate underdog, Christy makes it clear his limited number of professional fights does not reflect his true experience.
“I am the veteran in this fight,” Christy said. “Disadvantages are always perceived, never proven. Anyone who thinks any perceived disadvantage will prevent me from pouring my heart out, in victory or defeat, will have a big surprise come fight night. Be prepared for the quintessential boxing match.”
The undefeated Ball will be Christy’s toughest test to date. While Christy’s Air Force duties have interrupted his progress through the years, both as an amateur and a pro, Ball has carved an undeterred path to the top of his weight class in New England with seven fights in the first nine months of his career since his debut in May.
“It feels good,” he said. “I like being active because I feel loose when I go out there.”
Staying in the gym, and in shape, has kept Ball busy. So, too, has his willingness to fight anyone at any given time, whether it was facing unbeaten David Wilson just six days after fighting at Twin River or stepping up in weight on a week’s notice to fight undefeated super middleweight Nathan Millier. Both of those fights ended in a draw, an important teaching tool for his father and head trainer, Kendrick Ball Sr., after the younger Ball opened his career with three knockouts in his first four fights.
The draw against Millier, who entered 9-0-1, was arguably his most impressive accomplishment considering he trailed on all three scorecards midway through the scheduled six-round fight and finished strong to keep his unbeaten record intact.
“I learned you need to be busy nonstop. I think I got the draw because I fell back a little and wasn’t too busy, so I’ve got to keep working more and more,” Ball said.
“I’m a slow starter. I don’t get warmed up until the later rounds, so I think that’s what it was. [CES president] Jimmy [Burchfield] came up to the corner and was like, ‘You’ve got to show me something. Show me you really want this!’ and my dad was yelling at me so I had to go out there and turn it up a little bit.”
There won’t be any need for pep talks in either corner next Friday. Both Ball and Christy enter with high hopes, fueled by different sources, but both chasing the same dream.
Tickets for April 7th are priced at $47.00, $102.00, $127.00 (VIP) 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.
The event also airs live in its entirety on FITE TV Pay Per View for $14.99 beginning at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT. Fight fans can stream the event live on their television by downloading the FITE app free from iTunes or Google Play and using the instant stream-to-TV function for full-screen viewing, or watch online from any device at www.fite.tv. The FITE app also works with any Wi-Fi connected TV, iOS and Android devices, as well as streaming devices such as Roku, Chromecast and more. Replays will be available for those unable to watch live.
In addition to the highly-anticipated championship main event, April 7th features an eight-round female welterweight showdown between Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (16-4-2, 1 KO) of Marshfield, Mass., and Mexican challenger Paty Ramirez (11-3, 5 KOs), plus a New England Lightweight Title bout between Springfield, Mass., vet Zack Ramsey (7-1, 3 KOs) and unbeaten Augusta, Ga., native Divante Jones (9-0, 6 KOs).
Unbeaten New Bedford, Mass., junior middleweight Ray Oliveira Jr. (7-0, 1 KO) faces his toughest test to date in the six-round co-feature bout against Portland, Maine native Casey Kramlich (6-0-1, 3 KOs) in Kramlich’s Twin River debut.
Joining Aleksandra Lopes on April 7th is her stepson, Arturo Lopes (1-0), who ends an eight-year layoff in his return bout against Taunton, Mass., welterweight Marqus Bates (1-1, 1 KO). The Lopeses fight April 7th in honor of the late Manny Lopes, a former CES standout who passed away in December and will be inducted into the CES Ring of Honor.
Worcester, Mass., lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (3-0, 2 KOs), fresh off a hard-fought win over unbeaten Canton Miller in February, faces another undefeated challenger in a four-round bout against Glenn Mitchell (2-0, 2 KOs) of Steubenville, Ohio, and Lynn, Mass., welterweight Khiry Todd (2-0, 2 KOs) battles Philadelphia’s Vincent Floyd (2-2-1) in a four-round bout.
Junior welterweight Jonathan Figueroa (2-0, 1 KO) of Hartford, Conn., returns to Twin River to face Springfield’s Miguel Ortiz (1-0, 1 KO) in a four-round showdown between two rising New England prospects and amateur standouts Ricky Delossantos of Providence, R.I., and Philip Davis of Worcester make their professional debuts against one another in a four-round super featherweight bout.
Junior welterweight Cristobal Marrero (3-0, 2 KOs) of New London, Conn., by way of Worcester, returns for the first time since December in a four-round bout against New York’s Sidney Maccow (4-4, 3 KOs).