Between trading punches with opponents in the ring and showing off the results of his hard work in the gym on stage, it's been a while since Rich Gingras has taken a well-deserved break from his routine. Twenty-two days after beating Jaime Velazquez in June for the vacant N.E. Light Heavyweight title, Gingras participated in his first bodybuilding competition, bruises and all.
A month later, he and his wife, Alyssa, competed in another fitness show in Las Vegas alongside some of the world's elite bodybuilders. On Friday night, just 32 days since they stepped off the stage out west, Gingras will climb back into the ring and battle Joey McCreedy of Lowell, Mass., in the eight-round main event of CES Boxing's "Title For Title" show at Twin River Casino.
Counting calories, cutting weight, logging miles and preparing for each invidual challenge has taken its toll on Gingras these past few months, perhaps more mentally than physically. A break from competition - and his diet - is in order.
"I'm ready to get fat and eat a little bit," he said.
Until then, the task at hand is adding another belt to the trophy case. In addition to defending his N.E. title, Gingras will fight for McCreedy's Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) Northeast title in a unique main event featuring two champions who both consider Twin River their home venue.
"Since he won that belt, I've kept my eye on him," said Gingras, born and raised in New Hampshire and now living and training out of Lincoln, R.I.
"I've been licking my chops wanting to fight him. I'm very excited about this one. The fans will love this fight."
Stylistically, this is a fight fan's dream. Gingras (14-4-1, 9 KOs) and McCreedy (15-7-2, 6 KOs) are practically identical in terms of their approach. Neither fighter will shy away from contact and figure to spend all eight rounds -- or however long it lasts -- looking to inflict as much damage as possible.
"I won't have to chase him around," Gingras said. "We'll meet in the middle somewhere. Whoever has a higher tolerance for pain and can dish out the most punishment will end up winning."
Gingras is confident he'll be the one -- "I can take a punch," he noted -- thanks to his pinpoint diet and impeccable conditioning, making him a stronger, more durable fighter since he began competing at 175 pounds this year instead of 168.
"I'm not a cocky person by any means and I don't take anyone lightly," he said, "but I believe I'm a bigger, stronger individual than him. My conditioning will be the key factor."
Though it's hard to believe now, Gingras was a cruiserweight when he first turned pro in 2006. A change in his diet and conditioning helped him slim down to 168 when he fought Joe Gardner in May of 2013. He also stays in the gym between fights -- literally. He and his wife own one in nearby Pawtucket, so staying motivated to train and live a healthy lifestyle is never an issue.
"I've always had incredible conditioning," Gingras said.
The only time he's ever run out of gas was when he fought Peter Manfredo Jr. in November, but what few people know is Gingras injured his Achilles tendon three and a half weeks before the fight, which prevented him from running or jumping rope for the rest of his camp. He looked strong early, but faded down the stretch before Manfredo Jr. stopped him in the eighth round.
"I never really told anyone about it because I didn't want it to sound like I was making an excuse because he's a tremendous fighter and his experience broke me down," Gingras said. "The difference was in rounds six, seven and eight."
With the Achilles' injury behind him, Gingras is back to his old ways, pushing himself to the limit every time he steps foot inside the gym. His trainer, Orlondo Valles, keeps close tabs on him to make sure he doesn't overextend himself.
"He has to tell me to chill out once in a while," Gingras said of Valles. "I push a little harder than I should sometimes."
The hard work has paid off. Gingras is now a reigning champion in New England with his eyes set on another prize Friday night and, if possible, perhaps a third title down the road if he ever gets a shot at a rematch with the N.E. Super Middleweight Champion Vladine Biosse. The two fought to a disputed draw in July of 2013 (Gingras was initially announced as the winner due to a scorekeeping error), allowing Biosse to retain his title.
"I was shortchanged in that fight," Gingras said. "To have all three belts would be amazing. I have unfinished business to settle there. I could get down to 168 tomorrow if they asked me."
Tickets for "Title For Title" are on sale now at $45.00, $60.00, $76.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Worcester, Mass., junior middleweight Khiary Gray-Pitts (1-0, 1 KO) faces Sergio Cabrera (0-2) of Boston: junior middleweight Ray Oliveira Jr. of Fall River, Mass., battles fellow newcomer Angel Valdez in his pro debut and Fall River lightweight Scott Sullivan takes on Moises Rivera (0-3) of Boston in his debut. Italian-American cruiserweight Antonio Mignella (3-0, 3 KOs) of Providence, nicknamed "Little Rocky," will battle Louisana's Alvin Varmall Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) in a four-round bout.
Cranston welterweight Nick DeLomba (4-0) will face 15-fight veteran Christian Steele of Staunton, Va., in a six-round bout. "Title For Title" also features the professional debut of Cranston native and U.S. Air Force veteran Zack Christy, who takes on Saul Almeida of Framingham, Mass., in a four-round super middleweight bout.
Visit www.cesboxing.com for more information, follow CES Boxing on Twitter at @CESBOXING and Instagram at CESBOXING, or "like" CES Boxing on Facebook.
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