The phone call couldn’t have come at a better time for Jean Pierre Augustin, even if he wasn’t quite sure it was real.
“I didn’t take it seriously at first,” said the Lawrence, Mass., cruiserweight boxer. “I thought it was a prank.”
But this was no joke. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance for the 27-year-old fighter to play a role in Bleed For This, the upcoming Chad Verdi-produced film based on the career of five-time world champion Vinny Paz.
Augustin (4-0, 2 KOs) landed the role of former world champ Gilbert Dele, whom Paz beat in 1991, and made a lasting impression on the cast and crew, specifically Verdi and Paz, who are now guiding Augustin’s boxing career, which resumes Friday, April 3rd, 2015 at Twin River Casino on the undercard of “The Revival,” presented by CES Boxing in association with Verdi Productions.
Tickets for Augustin’s Twin River and CES debut are priced at $40.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and available for purchase online through CES Boxing or Twin River Casino. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
“This is a blessing for me,” Augustin said. “There’s no other way for me to describe it.”
“Vinny is 100 percent committed to training JP and making him a world champion,” Verdi said. “This is the main reason I agreed to become JP’s manager, and working with Vinny again is an absolute joy. Both Vinny and I feel JP has what it takes to become a champion, but it’s up to him to put in all the hard work and dedication needed.”
That part is nothing new for Augustin, who, with few connections on the local boxing circuit, needed the help of a sponsor at the beginning of his pro career just to pay his way onto various cards in West Virginia and North Carolina, where he amassed a 4-0 record with two first-round knockouts in 2014.
But the money from fighting wasn’t enough to pay the bills, so the Haitian-born Augustin found other ways to earn a living, working as a plumber, security guard and even a part-time Uber driver.
“I really didn’t know where my career was going,” he said. “I was basically living out of a suitcase moving from camp to camp, hustling here and there to get a job done and get some cash.
“I was pursuing a dream, but the dream really wasn’t taking me anywhere.”
Raised in Boston before moving to Lawrence at the age of 10, Augustin’s first love was martial arts, but it wasn’t “physical enough,” so, on the recommendation of his sensei, he took up boxing at a local gym.
“I instantly fell in love with it,” he said.
After 55 amateur fights (49 wins among them), Augustin finally turned pro in February of 2014. The struggle to land a spot on a card in New England with other promoters – “I just couldn’t get a fair shake,” he said – forced Augustin to remain a boxing nomad until he linked up with Verdi and Paz on the set for Bleed For This.
The rest is history. With Verdi as his manager, Paz as his trainer, and CES president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. as his promoter, Augustin now has an opportunity to build a fan base in New England and take his career to new heights. The journey begins April 3rd in a four-round bout against New Haven, Conn., vet Solomon Maye (1-4).
“Things have been unfolding quickly,” said Augustin, who has been training and sparring at Balletto’s Gym in Providence while also working with Rhode Island-based coach Vic Fagnant. “It’s not overwhelming, but it’s a lot to process.
“I’m just thankful for this opportunity.”
“The Revival” features the 10-round main event between Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) female super bantamweight world champion Shelly Vincent (13-0, 1 KO) of Providence and three-time world-title challenger Christina Ruiz (7-7-3, 4 KOs) of San Antonio, Tex. Both Vincent’s UBF title and the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) world title will be on the line.
Unbeaten Providence super middleweight Angel Camacho Jr. (13-0, 4 KOs) faces the dangerous Chris Chatman (12-4-1, 5 KOs) of Jersey City, N.J., in the six-round co-feature, while undefeated welterweight Nick DeLomba (6-0) of Cranston, R.I., battles Hartford, Conn., vet Joe Wilson Jr. (3-1) in a six-round special attraction.
Bleed For This is the inspirational true story of Rhode Island’s Paz, who defied the odds by winning the third of his five world titles just one year after a near-fatal car crash left him with a broken neck and an uncertain future.
Executive produced by Martin Scorsece, Michelle Verdi and Joshua Sason and produced by Verdi, Bruce Cohen, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Pam Thur and Noah Kraft, Bleed For This stars Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, That Awkward Moment and Generation X) as Paz; Golden Globe nominee Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen, I and Frankenstein) as trainer Kevin Rooney; Katey Sagal (Married … With Children, Sons Of Anarchy) as Louise Pazienza; and Ciaran Hinds (Frozen, Munich, The Road to Perdition and Harry Potter) as Angelo Pazienza.
The undercard of “The Revival” also features several noteworthy regional showdowns, including a four-round junior welterweight bout between unbeaten Worcester, Mass., native Freddy Sanchez (3-0, 2 KOs) and Briam Granado (1-0, 1 KO) of New Bedford, Mass., and a four-round super middleweight bout between Zachary Christy (1-0-1) of Warwick, R.I. (St. Petersburg, Fla.), and former amateur champion Bobby Flynn of Sandwich, Mass., who is making his professional boxing debut. New Bedford junior middleweight Ray Oliveira Jr. (3-0, 2 KOs) returns to face Cambridge, Mass., newcomer Yves Thevenin while unbeaten middleweight prospect Khiary Gray-Pitts (5-0, 3 KOs) of Worcester battles New Haven vet Greg McCoy (3-4-1, 1 KO).
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