LINCOLN, R.I. – Something about the bright lights and the big stage seems to bring out the best in Vladine Biosse.
Facing the toughest test of his career, Biosse (13-1-1) fought what might’ve been his best fight, out-slugging and out-working veteran Joey Spina (26-3-2) in a 78-74, 78-74, 79-73 unanimous decision win Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Twin River Casino to retain his New England super middleweight title.
Nicknamed “Mr. Providence,” Biosse won the highly-anticipated intrastate showdown by landing the cleaner, harder punches and beating the “K.O. Kid” at his own game. Spina’s power – he entered the fight with 18 knockouts in 26 victories – was supposed to be the decided factor, but it was Biosse, arguably the more athletic of the two, who looked every bit like the knockout artist.
Biosse had gone 1-1-1 in his previous three bouts, including a knockout loss to Denis Grachev last May and a draw against John Mackey in October, but he looked as sharp as ever Thursday with a performance reminiscent of his unanimous-decision win over Joey McCreedy on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” in July of 2010.
The former University of Rhode Island football star has quietly carved a niche as an elite, primetime performer; he’s 2-0 in nationally-televised bouts – both on ESPN – and now owns an impressive win over one of Providence’s most heralded fighters. For Spina, Thursday was his second consecutive loss, beginning with his split-decision loss to Jerson Ravelo in March in Atlantic City.
The biggest upset of the night occurred when previously-unbeaten middleweight Thomas Falowo (6-1) suffered the first loss of his career to Cedar Hill, Tex., Samuel Clarkson (5-0) by split decision, 7-56, 55-58, 57-56 despite the fact Falowo scored a knockdown in the opening round. Two of the three judges – Eddie Scungio and Glen Feldman – gave Clarkson four of the final five rounds in what was a hotly-contested fight from start to finish. Both fighters threw a high volume of punches throughout the fight, but the difference was Clarkson’s activity in the closing seconds of the later rounds, particularly in the fourth when he wobbled Falowo with a hard right hand, perhaps doing enough damage to steal the round.
The four-round special attraction featured veteran super middleweights Paul Gonsalves (4-2) of Harwich, Mass., and Providence’s Richard “Bobo The Bull” Starnino (9-8-2), with Gonsalves earning a 40-37, 39-37, 39-37 unanimous decision despite each fighter hitting the canvas in the third round.
Former reality television star Rich Gingras (11-3) of “The Contender” failed to get past the second round against Oklahoma City veteran Terrance Smith Jr. (8-13-2) in his CES debut, suffering a nasty cut above his left eye that forced the ringside physician to stop the fight between rounds. The Attleboro, Mass., native lost for the first time since 2009.
Former three-time Golden Gloves champion Zack Ramsey (1-0, 1 KO) of Springfield, Mass., dazzled the crowd in his pro debut with a third-round knockout win over Providence’s Alan Beeman (0-2). Mixing style with substance, Ramsey peppered Beeman over the first two rounds with an array of left hooks and quick, right jabs, dropping Beeman midway through the second. Ramsey finished his opponent for good just 37 seconds into the third round courtesy of two overhand rights that sent Beeman tumbling to the canvas.
Also on the undercard, Burlington, Vt., super middleweight Kevin Cobbs (4-0) kept his perfect record intact with a hard-fought, 39-37, 39-37, 39-37 unanimous-decision win over Cleburne, Tex., native Kentrell Claiborne (2-6) while Rincon, Puerto Rico native Julio Garcia (5-3), who trains in Boston with former world heavyweight champion John Ruiz, battered Joe Gardner (8-5) of Woonsocket, R.I., 40-34, 39-35, 39-35, dropping Gardner in both the third and fourth rounds. Fan-favorite Alex Amparo (4-0) of Providence kept his perfect record intact despite a game effort from Cranston, R.I., super middleweight Luis Felix, who agreed to the fight on Wednesday. Amparo won by unanimous decision, 40-36, 40-36, 39-37.
Fighting for the second time in two months, Providence female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (3-0) pieced together another dominant performance, defeating Fort Myers, Fla., native Carmen Cruz (0-1), 40-36, 40-36, 40-36, in Cruz’s pro debut. Vincent came within seconds of her first career knockout, pressuring Cruz against the ropes before the final bell sounded. Medford, Oreg., native Mike Wilson (6-0) won his New England debut, narrowly beating Atlanta’s Joseph Rabotte (11-21-1) by majority decision, 40-36, 39-37, 38-38.