Former two-time world champion “Bad” Chad Dawson, boxing’s preeminent light heavyweight for nearly a decade in the early 2000s, ends a two-year layoff Saturday, June 29th, 2019 at Foxwoods Resort Casino to headline a loaded pro-am show promoted by regional giant CES Boxing.
Born in South Carolina, but raised in New Haven, Conn., since the age of 6, Dawson (34-5, 19 KOs) joins fellow New Haven boxer Tramaine Williams (17-0, 6 KOs) for a special “Homecoming” as part of a stacked lineup featuring eight professional bouts preceded by a preliminary amateur card at the historic Fox Theater. Williams hasn’t fought in his home state since 2015. For Dawson, June 29th is his first appearance in Connecticut since April of 2016.
The preliminary card begins at 5:30 p.m. ET, followed by the main card at 7. The latter streams live on Facebook via FIGHTNIGHT LIVE. Tickets for the event are priced at $47, $77 and $157 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com or www.foxwoods.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or 800-200-2882 or at the Fox Theater Box Office. All fights and fighters subject to change.
“Our ‘Homecoming Kings’ will take center stage June 29th,” said CES Boxing president and CEO Jimmy Burchfield Sr. “Foxwoods Resort Casino is the only place you want to be that night.
“This card has it all. Fight fans in Connecticut have waited a long time to see Chad Dawson back in the ring, and Tramaine Williams is one of the best-kept secrets in New England, a future world champion who has done nothing but win — and win convincingly — since he launched his career.
“Nowhere else in boxing will you find a fight card featuring both the stars of today and the champions of tomorrow. The amateurs you see on the preliminary portion of this card will one day be headlining at venues throughout the world. With so much talent assembled under one roof, June 29th will set a new standard for professional and amateur boxing in New England. You don’t want to miss this!”
Fighting for the first time in more than two years, Dawson faces Charlotte, N.C., southpaw Quinton Rankin (15-5-2, 12 KOs) in an eight-round bout while Williams, nicknamed “The Mighty Midget,” battles Filipino Neil John Tabanao (17-5, 11 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight showdown, a bout presented in association with Roc Nation Sports.
Dawson’s resume in the light heavyweight division is unmatched, and his history with CES Boxing dates back to the beginning of his career, including his second pro fight when he shared the stage with Rhode Island icon Vinny Paz, who recorded his 48th victory that night. Two years later, the hard-hitting Dawson reached a major milestone of his own, capturing the WBC World Youth Middleweight Title at Foxwoods with a win over Dumont Welliver.
Dawson’s rise to prominence continued with NABO and NABF titles in 2005 and 2006, respectively, before he reached the top of the mountain a year later by upending Tomasz Adamek for the WBC World Light Heavyweight Title. Dawson defended the belt three times over the next year and a half, including a win over two-time world champion Glen Johnson. Six months later, he dominated three-time champ Antonio Tarver in the first of their two championship bouts, winning and subsequently defending the IBO and IFO world titles. In 2009, he returned to Connecticut and beat Johnson a second time to capture the interim WBC title and then won the WBC light heavyweight crown a second time in 2012 with a majority-decision victory over the iconic Bernard Hopkins in Atlantic City.
Rankin steps up to face Dawson in the midst of a three-fight win streak dating back to November, highlighted by a fourth-round knockout win over Columbian challenger Neller Obregon in April. The 32-year-old southpaw handed light heavyweight prospect Aaron Casper his first career loss in December and also battled Russian prospect Medzhid Bektemirov, Mike Gavronski and reigning NABA champion Charles Foster of New Haven.
Seventeen years since his professional debut, Dawson has come full circle as he reunites with the promoter who launched his career nearly two decades ago. CES Boxing’s June 29th pro-am extravaganza is its 49th event at Foxwoods since the casino began hosting combat sports in 1992. Event No. 50 takes place in December as the second installment of CES Boxing’s two-fight series in 2019 and will feature a celebration of some of the best fighters to compete on CES-promoted cards at Foxwoods over the past 27 years.
“I’m glad to be back where it all started and I’m happy to build stronger relationships with CES and collaborate on bigger projects in the future,” Dawson said. “CES is where my professional career started, so I’m looking forward to working with them again and working my way to the top. Boxing is life for me and I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
The well-traveled Williams makes his Foxwoods debut June 29th in just his second pro fight in his home state. Promoted by Roc Nation Sports, the 26-year-old southpaw has fought everywhere from El Paso to Long Beach, including stops in New Hampshire, Kansas and Pennsylvania.
Williams began his surge toward the top of the featherweight division in 2017, obliterating 30-win vets Christopher Martin and William Gonzalez via knockout in back-to-back bouts. Later that year, he dominated Mexican journeyman German Meraz, a veteran of 120 bouts, by unanimous decision, and then opened 2019 with victories over Jose AlfredoRodriguez and Ernesto Guerrero, who entered with 32 and 31 wins, respectively.
Tabanao may be the toughest test of Williams’ career. The 25-year-old native of Mandaue, Philippines, boasts an impressive resume that includes a knockout win over Australian title-challenger Ibrahim Balla, plus a WBC youth title showdown with former world champion Isaac Dogboe in 2016.
“I can’t wait to fight at home again,” Williams said. “I’m especially excited to be fighting on the same card as Chad Dawson, who I came up the ranks with. It’s going to be a great show so, Connecticut, be ready!”
“I’m extremely excited and pleased about Tramaine taking the next step of his amazing journey on June 29 in his home state of Connecticut at Foxwoods Resort Casino,” said Dino Duva of Roc Nation Sports. “Tramaine is on a mission, and will not be stopped until he fights for, and wins the world championship! I’m also very happy to be collaborating on this event with my old friend, Jimmy Burchfield, and his CES Boxing team — a sincere thank you to them. I look forward to doing many great things together with them in the future.”
The June 29th undercard features New England fan-favorites, beginning with Manchester, Conn., junior middleweight Jose Rivera (7-4, 5 KOs) facing Miami’s Luca Podda (7-3, 3 KOs) in a six-round bout, along with Bridgeport, Conn., lightweight Oscar Bonilla (5-3-2, 1 KO) battling Julio Perez (4-3) of Worcester, Mass. Super lightweight Wilson Mascarenhas (1-1) of New Bedford, Mass., makes his Foxwoods debut in a four-round bout against Jose Arzola (0-0) of Hartford, Conn., and female bantamweight Marisa Messer-Belenchia (0-0) of New Haven, an accomplished amateur who also competes in mixed martial arts, makes her professional boxing debut against Florida’s Delaney Owen (0-2) in a four-round bout.
Undefeated featherweight Nathan Martinez (3-0, 1 KO) of New Britain and Bridgeport super featherweight Jacob Marrero (3-0, 2 KOs) will be featured in separate four-round bouts. The 20-year-old Marrero debuted with CES Boxing in October, stopping challenger Fierce Taylor at the 2:30-mark of the second round.
The amateur preliminary card is the third installment of the Jimmy Burchfield USA Boxing Amateur Classic. Ten bouts are scheduled, including the amateur debut of Lennox Estrada, the son of former U.S. Olympian and heavyweight contender Jason Estrada of Providence; plus William Guilmette of Coventry, R.I.; 2019 Southern New England Golden Gloves Champion David Ribeiro of Brockton, Mass.; and 2019 New England Golden Gloves Champion Mark Solis of New Haven.