Having already marked his territory in Rhode Island by beating hometown favorite Thomas Falowo in July, Jersey City middleweight Chris Chatman has taken his newfound allegiance to New England one step further by signing with Classic Entertainment & Sports, the region's premier combat sports firm. But don't think for a second being part of a team for the first time in his career has tamed the outspoken, 5-foot-8 southpaw.
"I'm focusing my efforts on becoming a world champion," Chatman said, "and if I have to take out their whole lineup to do it, then so be it."
For now, Chatman (11-3-1, 5 KOs) will focus his efforts on chopping down another out-of-town challenger with ties to New England, The Contender Season 2 champion Grady Brewer (30-16, 18 KOs) of Lawton, Okla., in Friday night's main event at Twin River Casino.
Brewer teamed with Rhode Island's Gary "Tiger" Balletto on the hit reality series in 2006 and returned to Providence two years later to beat fellow Contender alum Cornelius Bundrage. Now he'll face the hard-hitting Chatman, who's gained an improbable cult-like following in Rhode Island not only for his win over Falowo, but also for his effort in a disputed loss to former Olympian Demetrius Andrade in 2009, his first of three appearances at Twin River.
The eight-round middleweight bout between Chatman and Brewer will be the headliner of Classic Entertainment & Sports' latest installment of the 2014 Twin River Fight Series. Tickets are priced at $41, $76 and $126 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling 401-724-2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or at the Players Club at Twin River. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
"He's a strong fighter," Brewer said of Chatman. "A guy like him, you know he's coming to fight.
"I'm excited to come back to Providence," he continued. "I loved it there. Great fight fans. They love boxing and I'm excited to show them what I can do."
"It discredits our sport and shows the lack of integrity among judges. That's one of the reasons I love to fight in Rhode Island. I always get a fair shot."
Five of Chatman's last seven opponents were undefeated at the time of the fight, and Falowo only had one loss when they faced one another last year. The combined record of those opponents was 76-5-2 before the bell rang.
Fittingly, Brewer has built a similar resume through the years with each of his last three fights coming against undefeated opponents, including a 2013 showdown against world-rated Russian prospect Matt Korobov -- "to this day, one of the better fighters I've faced," Brewer said -- and a scheduled eight-round bout against 17-0 Tony Harrison of Detroit in April.
After beating Steve Forbes in The Contender finale, Brewer won his next four fights before stopping unbeaten Nigerian prospect Albert Onolunose in the second round of their scheduled 12-round bout. Two years later, he handed world-title challenger Fernando Guerrero -- 21-0 at the time -- the first loss his career via fourth-round knockout. Brewer has also faced World Boxing Association (WBA) light middleweight champion Erislandy Lara and Andrade, the current World Boxing Organization (WBO) champ.
"The Contender was real instrumental for me because it set the stage for my career and gave me the respect I had been looking for," Brewer said.
"I'm always trying to get to the top. Sometimes, I've been there, and sometimes I've taken fights on short notice thinking I was ready, and that's part of the reason why I wasn't always able to show who I really am."
With the dream of winning a world title still within reach, Brewer draws inspiration from former champs George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins. Foreman had been the oldest fighter to win a world title before the 48-year-old Hopkins broke his record in 2013. Brewer still has a shot, but he needs to beat Chatman on Friday to snap his four-fight losing streak.
The fight is of equal importance to Chatman, who'd benefit tremendously by beating a well-known veteran with more than three times his experience as a professional.
"I'm putting my all into this like I do with every fight," Chatman said. "Grady is a veteran, a former champ, and he has the experience to back it up. Like me, he's pulled off many upsets, so to go in there thinking I'm guaranteed a win is foolish.
"That being said, I'm confident enough in my work ethic to expect that I can earn a victory."
Win or lose, Chatman's future in New England will certainly be entertaining if nothing else, and though he may never get that coveted rematch with Andrade, there are plenty of opponents to target in this neck of the woods, teammates or not.
"If you're between 154 and 168 pounds and you're being put ahead of me, you'll be in my sights," Chatman said. "I'm ready to prove that I'm No. 1 and if anyone wants to speak to the contrary, you're more than welcome to step up and glove up."
Friday's undercard includes the return of unbeaten Providence middleweight KJ Harrison-Lombardi (5-0-1) of Providence, who will put his record on the line in a four-round bout against Jason Bakanowski (0-1) of Worcester, Mass.
Coming off a knockout win over veteran Arthur Saribekian in November, Cape Cod, Mass., heavyweight Jesse Barboza (7-1-1, 5 KOs) will look to stay on track against East Stroudsburg, Pa., heavyweight Glenn Thomas in a four-round bout while Springfield, Mass., welterweight Zack Rasmey (6-0, 3 KOs) takes on veteran Shakha Moore (11-19-3, 2 KOs) of Norwalk, Conn., in a six-rounder.
Louisiana cruiserweight Alvin Varmall Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs), who made his Twin River debut in February with a knockout win over Andre Ward, will return to face Devon Mosley (0-0-1) of Capitol Heights, Md., in a four-round bout and Chattanooga, Tenn., lightweight prospect Ryan Martin (3-0, 2 KOs) will face Justin Robbins (2-5, 1 KO) of Springfield, Ill., in a four-round bout. Cranston, R.I., welterweight Nick DeLomba (2-0) will return in a separate four-round bout. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
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