For someone who's been through every fight imaginable, there's not much Rich Gingras can't handle in or out of the ring. As the Lincoln, R.I., light heavyweight prepares for his next title fight Friday night at Twin River Casino, he's handling personal and professional battles that have made the past three and a half weeks the busiest of his life.
In addition to his New England Light Heavyweight title bout against Jaime Velazquez in the eight-round main event of CES Boxing's "Unstoppable" card Friday, June 6th, 2014, Gingras (13-4-1, 8 KOs) is also launching the N.E. branch of Rock Steady Boxing, aimed toward helping people with Parkinson's Disease, while simultaneously preparing for his first fitness competition just 22 days after the fight.
"I'm trying to exercise all these different avenues in my life," Gingras said, "and I'm having a good time doing it."
What might weigh down most people doesn't seem to affect Gingras, who often finds himself in the middle of more than one project at the same time, whether it's opening his own gym, preparing for a fight or supporting his wife, Alyssa, who recently earned her World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) pro card in her first competition.
Overcoming obstacles is part of Gingras' allure; he spent most of his life without his father, who died when he was a teenager, and dodged trouble throughout childhood before becoming a successful businessman, father and husband.
Watching his wife win at Fitness Atlantic in April motivated Gingras to give it a try in hopes that he, too, can earn his pro card on his first attempt June 28th in Boston and compete nationally in August with his wife at The WBFF Worlds in Las Vegas.
So now Gingras is packing on the muscle to fight at 175 pounds Friday against Velazquez (11-6-2, 6 KOs), a native of nearby Central Falls who's back in the ring just four months after challenging former two-time world champion Glen Johnson at Twin River.
"People say I'm crazy for doing a fitness competition and boxing in the same month, or that's a counterproductive because I'm putting a lot of wear and tear on my body," Gingras said, "but most people can't do one or the other, let alone both.
"I'm strong now from lifting. My speed hasn't suffered at all. Maybe a hair, but I'm super powerful. Fighting in the light heavyweight division will help me."
This is a unique challenge for Gingras, who actually fought as a heavyweight in the amateurs and began his professional career as a cruiserweight before slimming down to 168 pounds to face Vladine Biosse for the N.E. Super Middleweight Title in 2013. Now he's aiming for 175, carefully making sure he doesn't gain too much muscle prior to fight night before bulking up to 188 by the time he hits Boston for his WBFF debut.
A late bloomer in boxing, Gingras made up for lost time by fighting six times in the past two years after ending a three-year hiatus in 2012. His dedication to fitness and nutrition may have added a few years to his career. Even if he earns his pro card later this month and competes nationally, Gingras still intends to continue boxing as long as his body can handle the workload.
"I still have time left," Gingras said. "I treat myself young. I'm healthy, and my body rewards me for it. I started late, so I don't have a lot of miles on me, but I'm 33 and getting busier by the day."
While training for his fight and the upcoming competition, Gingras also launched his own division of Rock Steady Boxing, which will be based out of his Fight 2 Fitness Gym in Pawtucket, R.I. The purpose of Rock Steady is to provide non-contact boxing and fitness training for those with Parkinson's Disease to help improve their quality of life.
"New England happens to have the highest population of people with Parkinson's, and there was nothing around here like that for them," Gingras said. "It's going to be huge. It's something I'm real proud to be a part of."
Gingras hasn't fought since losing to Manfredo in November. The time off turned out to be a blessing in disguise, not only healing Gingras' "fighting spirit," but also allowing him to become more invested in other opportunities outside of the ring.
"I put a lot of work into boxing last year," he said. "I trained my ass off for fights, between fighting [Biosse], then preparing for a fight I ended up not having [in September] and then fighting [Manfredo], I went seven months without a break."
Refreshed, but not necessarily rested, Gingras hopes to prove Friday night that despite everything else going on in his life, boxing is still his No. 1 passion. It'll be a tough test against the savvy Velazquez, but it's a challenge Gingras is willing to accept. He's not one to back down from a fight.
Tickets for "Unstoppable" 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.
The undercard features the return of Hyannis, Mass., heavyweight Jesse Barboza (8-1-1, 5 KOs), who will face Jamal Woods (4-11-3, 4 KOs) of Forrest City, Ark., in a four-round bout. Barboza has won four consecutive fights since 2013, including a unanimous-decision win over Glenn Thomas in March. Pawtucket, R.I., middleweight Thomas Falowo (11-2, 7 KOs), fresh off a win in February, will battle Albuquerque, N.M., native Jose Ramirez, a veteran of 24 fights, in a six-round bout; and unbeaten Boston heavyweight Donnie Palmer (4-0-1, 4 KOs) will fight John Orr (1-3) of Kansas City, Mo., in a four-round bout.
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