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 Last update:  10/28/2011       Read more by Thomas Gerbasi         
Peter Manfredo Jr: If I Don't Win This Fight - I'm Done!
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By Thomas Gerbasi

In the lying game known as boxing, Peter Manfredo Jr. may be the last honest man. There are no punches pulled, no quotes given for the sake of hype. What you see from The Pride of Providence is what you get, and oddly enough, it may be that honesty that earns him his first world championship on November 19th.

Because if you lie to yourself about your place in the business, about your skills, or what the future holds, the slightest ripple in the water can cause your boat to sink. But there are no such illusions for the 30-year old middleweight as he approaches his date with WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Houston. He knows where hes at, he knows what he brings to the table, and hes confident that in this, his last hurrah, hes got the goods to extend that hurrah just a little longer.

If I dont win this fight, Im done, he said. I wont put on gloves anymore because it wont be worth it for me. Then what? Im gonna go back to making five, ten thousand dollars a fight? It takes you two months to get ready for a fight, and I could be working, making the same thing, if not more. So thats where Im at right now. If I lose the fight, Im done. But if I win the fight, my life is set, so Im gonna leave everything in the ring that night. Im gonna give all Ive got, and thats gonna make for a great fight because he doesnt want to lose in front of his fans, and hes a world champion whos never lost. This fight is gonna be great, but I think my hand will be raised at the end. Im very confident.

A cast member on the first season of NBCs The Contender, Manfredo Jr. may not have won the reality show competition, but with his blue collar roots, exciting style, and compelling story as a family man who could fight, he was seemingly destined for stardom. And he did achieve a measure of that, eventually parlaying a few solid wins and his mainstream notoriety into a WBO super middleweight title bout against Joe Calzaghe in 2007. Stopped in three rounds, Manfredo realized that perhaps he wasnt ever going to compete on that ultra-elite level with guys like Calzaghe.

That was a different league, a different level, said Manfredo. It was new for me and I was nervous going in. I showed in the fight that I was very nervous, very defensive and they stopped the fight on me prematurely. Not saying I would have won the fight anyway; the guy was a legend, probably one of the best super middleweights of our time.

Manfredo stuck around at 168, and after the Calzaghe bout, he won five of six, losing only a close decision to former champ Jeff Lacy. But in November of 2008, he took a bad TKO loss to Sakio Bika, and many wondered whether Manfredo was done, not just as a contender, but as a boxer. He wondered the same thing. But after two more fights at 168, he decided on one more run, this time at middleweight.

Since that move eight pounds south, Manfredo has gone 4-0, with wins over Matt Vanda, Angel Hernandez, Jhon Berrio, and Daniel Edouard. Theyre not the Fearsome Foursome, but theyre all decent fighters who Manfredo looked good against. And after doing his part, Manfredos promoter did his.

I signed with (promoter) Lou DiBella a year ago to get back into this position, said Manfredo, 37-6 with 20 KOs. I wanted one last shot at a big fight and hes a man of his word he got me the shot.

The two combatants met up this week to officially announce their bout, and while respectful, Manfredo did want to make his intentions clear to the 25-year old Chavez Jr. (43-0-1, 30 KOs).

When I stood face to face with him at the press conference, that was the first time I looked into his eyes and I wanted him to know that Im ready for him, he said. Im looking into his eyes saying bring it mother**ker, Im ready.

But in a nice way, he laughs. You know what I mean. He was very respectful, and I was very humble and respectful of getting the opportunity with him too, and hes definitely a class act champion and a good kid. I have nothing bad to say about him, I just want to win, just like he wants to win.

Understood. Its good to be respectful to your opponent, but when the bell rings on fight night, theres a lot more at stake than just a belt. A win opens up doors that would be shut otherwise, and for a fighter like Manfredo, all it takes is one opened door to secure his family.

I win this fight, my lifes set, said Manfredo, who knows that its likely that the winner of the November 19th bout could square off with WBC diamond champion Sergio Martinez. Ill fight Martinez. Do I have a shot to win? Everybody does in this game, but its a slim shot. But I can win this fight to get to that level. And just getting a fight like that is a win. I take that money and Ill put it away. Ill pay off my house, Ill set my family up, Ill set my kids up for college, and then Ill go to work, like an Average Joe. If you think like that and be a realist in life, thats how youll make it. If you think youre gonna go in there, take that million dollars and youre gonna take another fight someday for a million dollars, thats when youre gonna have a tough time. Thats when you end up broke and with nothing.

Manfredos making sure hes not one of boxings statistics. A laborer for Local 271, the New Englander has always kept grounded and kept a fairly steady paycheck, guaranteeing that his wife and three kids are taken care of. Its not something you see too often these days in the fight game, making Manfredo the living embodiment of old school.

Im not the smartest kid in the world, thats for sure, he laughs, but Ive been in the game my whole life, so Ive been around it, and I matured at a young age. I never hung out in the streets, I hung in the gym. I got married young, I had kids young, and I had to mature young. I dont have many friends, and the friends I do have are old. Probably one of my best friends is 63 years old, getting ready to retire, and hes my neighbor across the street. We hang out all the time and I call him every day. I have an old heart. I kept my mouth shut and my eyes open when I was young.

And now that he has a platform from which to speak, hes not shy when it comes to discussing boxing, his place in it, and the importance of fighters having a say in their own futures. He knows that nothing lasts forever in this sport, and as cruel as that sentiment may be, its the truth. So when the spotlight dims, the paychecks get smaller, and the interviews dwindle to a few here and there, its good to have a work ethic outside the ring to see you though.

Ill always be a worker, he said. Im still a worker. Obviously I have a talent besides that, and thats where I make extra money. And in a tough economy like it is now, its hard to get jobs. Im laid off now. So you can appreciate being a fighter because its a trade and another way to make income for your family. Im just a regular, average family man who has a talent. So I thank God for that, and Im blessed, but Ill always be a worker. Boxing is a tough sport and its not like any other professional sport. Youre only as good as your last fight in this game. You can be on top, but as soon as you fall, you could be down there forever. A guy like Meldrick Taylor is the perfect example. He got beat by Chavez (Sr) and couldnt recover after that. And whatever happened to him, he probably aint got two nickels to rub together and nobody cares. And thats how this game is, its very evil. So you have to have something to fall back on. I go to schools and I talk to these kids and Im a realist. Im not the greatest fighter, thats for sure. You could even be the greatest fighter, but you always have to have something to fall back on.

Oddly enough though, while he always looked at his jobs as a laborer and electrician as the backups, as he waits out his current layoff, its boxing thats come to the rescue, and less than a month from now, he can change his life and the lives of his family in the space of less than an hour. And hey, hes still a fighter.

Ill always have that, said Manfredo. You get hit with a couple shots, you get pissed off and you want to throw back. Ill wave him on, come on, lets go. The only difference now is that Im getting older. When I was 22, 23, forget it, I was unstoppable. I could have ran all day long and have energy to go to the gym and work out for two hours. Now, Ill run five miles, and if I dont take a nap, I couldnt even go to the gym and train hard. (Laughs) Its definitely a young mans game, so as you get older, you have to get smarter. You have to get your rest, you have to eat the right foods, and do everything right to be on top of your game. Theres always going to be someone coming up whos bigger, faster, stronger, hungrier, and it will be like that always. This kid (Chavez) is young, hes 25, but this is a winnable fight and Im gonna win this fight. Im humbled and blessed by the opportunity, and Im gonna take the best advantage I can of this.

Tags: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr , Peter Manfredo Jr. , Chavez-Manfredo , Chavez vs Manfredo


 User Comments and Feedback (must register to comment)

comment by elgranluchadore, on 10-28-2011
bringing the fight to chavez is a good idea however peter doesnt got the power to ko him manfredo can only win by decision and that's gonna be impossible still im looking forward to this match if chavez jr looks good i think he can be a long time champion

comment by ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY, on 10-28-2011
I know what u mean but I will say that Peter doesnt get the full credit, in that I would say in my honest opinion he is certainly more than just an "average boxer" ...he's a good fighter, really, and I think that being on that show actually causes him to get LESS credit, like he is somehow less o...

comment by GattiFan, on 10-28-2011
A hardworking guy that takes care of his family? A fighter honest about where his skill set is? A humble guy that is very thankful for the life boxing has brought him? A guy that that calls a title shot "A blessing"? BOXING COULD USE ABOUT A MILLION MORE GUYS LIKE THIS. Look...h...

comment by GamboaGuy, on 10-28-2011
manfredo is much better than most give him credit

comment by cja07007, on 10-28-2011
Love to see Manfredo take this one.

Post A Comment/View More User Comments (28) 

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