Cranston, R.I., welterweight boxer Nick DeLomba has a new team in his corner as he prepares for his first fight of the year Friday night at Twin River Casino. The Gary Balletto protege is 2-0 since turning pro last year. (CES photo by Ian Travis Barnard)
By Michael Parente
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 20th, 2014) – Getting motivated to fight and actually stepping through the ropes and trading blows with an opponent has never been a problem for Cranston, R.I., welterweight Nick DeLomba.
“I’ve always had structure in the gym,” DeLomba said, “but I never had it in my life.”
With a new team in his corner, DeLomba (2-0) has finally found that much-needed balance between boxing and life outside of the gym, putting the 24-year-old welterweight on a collision-course with greatness in a region littered with talented 147-pounders.
The real measure as to whether or not DeLomba has turned the corner will come Friday, March 28th, 2014 when the Gary Balletto protégé steps back into the ring in a four-round bout on the undercard of Classic Entertainment & Sports’ professional boxing event at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. It will be DeLomba’s first fight since he beat Evincii Dixon by unanimous decision in May.
Shortly after that fight, DeLomba parted ways with his former trainers and went through a brief transition period where he essentially trained himself until he linked up with Rhode Island-based boxing coach Vic Fagnant. The two have worked together since the start of 2014 and DeLomba has noticed an immediate improvement in his life both in and outside of the gym.
“It’s a tremendous difference,” he said. “I pick up things quickly. Vic says I’m one of the few who listens to what he says and then goes out and does it. My angles are much better, my positioning, technique – he’s made a big difference in my life.
“He makes it so that every part of my day is about being a professional, whether it’s my diet, sleeping plan, what I’m doing, or who I’m with. He touches base with me every morning and every night when I leave the gym. It’s what I needed.”
Even as DeLomba debuted in 2013 with back-to-back wins in a pair of six-round bouts – a rare feat considering most fighters start out with four-rounders – he found himself doing most of the work on his own without much help from his previous trainers. He actually fired his camp twice during the preparation for the bout against Dixon and still let them work his corner the night of the fight.
“That whole camp was the turning point for me,” DeLomba said. “Even when it came time for the fight, I was in the locker room preparing and they were nowhere to be found. They were somewhere out in the crowd while I was wrapping my own hands.”
Through it all, DeLomba won the fight, picking himself up off the canvas following an early knockdown and dominating the final five rounds to earn the unanimous decision.
“It was like another day at the gym to me,” he said.
After beating Dixon, DeLomba agreed to fight Connecticut’s Carlos Hernandez in November, but showed up two pounds heavy at the weigh-in. Though the two camps tried to reconcile, the fight fell through, leaving DeLomba embarrassed, but determined to right the ship in 2014.
“I was in transition at the time,” he said. “I had no trainers, Gary was in and out of the hospital with infections, we had no heat at the gym – everything that could have went wrong did go wrong. Those two pounds killed me.
“I was really just training myself and getting up in the morning to push myself. Gary’s motivation is what drove me. When I was in the gym freezing because we had no heat, I’d look up at his posters and find my motivation. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
But DeLomba needed more than motivation. He needed someone reliable in his corner. Shortly before the scheduled bout in November, Fagnant reached out to DeLomba to invite him to his gym to do some pad work and get some sparring. The two already had a brief history; as an amateur, DeLomba spent six months training with Rhode Island prospect Anthony Marsella Jr., who was Fagnant’s student at the time. After the weigh-in fiasco, DeLomba eventually decided he wanted to work with Fagnant on a full-time basis.
“It was an easy transition,” DeLomba said. “We’ve got a great team. Vic also trains [Providence-based MMA fighter] Luis Felix and he and I push each other all the time. I helped push him for his last fight [on March 14th]. It’s an all-around solid team.”
The real test comes next Friday when DeLomba puts Fagnant’s tutelage to work inside the ring. It’s a chance to erase November from his memory and focus on a fresh start to 2014.
“I can’t wait,” DeLomba said.
The main event on March 14th features Jersey City, N.J., light middleweight Chris Chatman (11-3-1, 5 KOs), the eccentric, entertaining fan-favorite who is 2-1 lifetime at Twin River, facing The Contender Season 2 champion Grady Brewer (30-18, 16 KOs) of Lawton, Okla., in an eight-round bout.
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.
With Chatman-Brewer at the top, the undercard is stacked with the region’s top talent, including rising star KJ Harrison-Lombardi (5-0-1) of Providence, who will aim to keep his undefeated record intact in a four-round middleweight 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. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
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