By Keith Idec
Peter Manfredo Jr. feels much more prepared for his fight against WBC middleweight title-holder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. than he did for his first world title fight.
Manfredo admits he wasn’t quite ready to travel to Wales to challenge unbeaten WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe in April 2007. A huge underdog, Manfredo lost that bout by third-round technical knockout after Calzaghe unloaded countless unanswered punches as Manfredo stayed against the ropes.
“For Calzaghe, I was high on my horse,” Manfredo said. “I just came off two big wins [knockouts of Scott Pemberton and Joey Spina] and one of the best fighters in the world was calling me out, to fight him in Wales. It was just a crazy experience. But for this, I’m more focused and more determined because, first of all, I have that experience and I know what to expect.
“I trained extremely hard for this fight and I know this is my last shot. This is do-or-die for me. So I’m going to be putting it all into the ring that night. I just think that the experience [against Calzaghe] helped me out. It helped me get ready for this fight, that’s for sure.”
The 30-year-old Manfredo’s confidence is stronger for this HBO “Boxing After Dark” main event Saturday night in Houston for various reasons.
Chavez (43-0-1, 30 KOs) obviously isn’t as good as Calzaghe was 4½ years ago. Manfredo feels more comfortable competing at middleweight as well.
The Providence, R.I., native is 4-0 since deciding to move down to middleweight two years ago, a move Manfredo (37-6, 20 KOs) realized he’d have to eventually make following a third-round TKO loss to Cameroon’s Sakio Bika (28-5-2, 19 KOs) a year earlier.
“When I was up at 68, Sakio Bika hit me so damn hard sometimes I still feel it in my sleep,” Manfredo said. “But I figured if I was going to continue on in the sport and compete at a championship level, I couldn’t do it at that [weight] because those guys are way too big and way too strong. They were blowing me out of the water.
“So I decided to come back down in weight. Yeah, it’s a little harder. I have to run harder, I have to work harder, I have to diet harder. Everything I do is harder now, especially because I’m older. But when you want something bad enough, you’re going to get it.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.