Joe Wilson Jr. has a hard time putting his finger on what makes his upcoming opponent, Nick DeLomba, such a dangerous adversary.
"Truthfully, he's awkward," Wilson Jr. said.
"Awkward's never easy," DeLomba countered.
The six-round junior middleweight showdown between the unbeaten DeLomba (6-0) of Cranston, R.I., and the slick, elusive vet Wilson Jr. (3-1) of Hartford, Conn., is one of the most highly anticipated bouts on CES Boxing's Friday, April 3rd, 2015 fight card, "The Revival," at Twin River Casino.
Both are seasoned, well-trained fighters, efficient in their execution and capable of putting the "sweet" in the sweet science with their ability to turn a slugfest into a work of art. It's a true pick 'em fight with the crafty DeLomba aiming to keep his perfect record intact while Wilson Jr. hopes to butt his way into the conversation among the best 154-pounders in New England.
"His coach already made a comment about [Wilson Jr.] going in there and fighting his type of fight," DeLomba said. "We're going to stick to our game plan and fight the way we know how to fight. It's going to be a hell of a night."
"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.
The idea of "sticking to the game plan" seems to be the theme of this six-round special attraction between DeLomba and Wilson Jr., but Wilson Jr.'s game plan might be different than what Rhode Island fans remember. Since his last appearance at Twin River, which came in his professional debut in 2013, Wilson Jr. has begun working with a new trainer, Hector Rosario. His longtime trainer, Paul Cichon, is still part of the team, working cuts on fight night and helping with film study and preparation, but Rosario has taken the reigns, fixing a few glitches in Wilson Jr.'s execution.
"He teaches me a lot," Wilson Jr. said of Rosario. "If you watch my fight videos, you'll see in this fight where I've progressed. My footing. Distance. Balance. A lot of sticking and moving. Staying on my toes. Boxing. When I first got to the pros, I just had a mindset that I could just adjust fight to fight, but that can backfire on you.
"If I stick to my game plan and box and jab, I can be unstoppable in this weight class."
This will be Wilson Jr.'s second fight with Rosario, but his first official fight with Rosario guiding him from the beginning of camp until fight night since the two only worked together sporadically when Wilson Jr. beat Jimmy Smith in Boston in July. Cichon's influence is still evident, too, especially outside of the ropes.
"Paul gives me a lot of pointers, showing me what I'm doing wrong," Wilson Jr. said, "and he's watched a lot of Nick's videos to see what Nick's strengths are and how he would pick up on my weaknesses and where Nick would counteract."
It all adds up to what Wilson Jr. promises will be a "new-look" fighter come April 3rd.
"You'll see me more calm, cool and collected," Wilson Jr. said. "You won't see me rushing or falling all over the place."
DeLomba can relate to the importance of proper coaching and guidance in the gym. He worked with several trainers at the start of his career until finding a new home with Victor Fagnant, who has helped DeLomba with his accuracy and, more importantly, his conditioning, which has been the difference for DeLomba in his last two wins.
"For a while, it was tough for me to get my feet grounded," DeLomba said. "Now I'm with Vic and we're with each other every day. No days off. We're like a big family."
Fagnant has also worked on DeLomba's strength, which DeLomba says is underrated despite the fact he hasn't scored a knockout yet in six pro fights.
"It's not even necessarily the power, but more so the technique and the form," he said. "I'm sitting down on my punches now and my toes aren't all over the place."
The biggest challenge for DeLomba on Friday might be Wilson Jr.'s size and reach. Wilson Jr. has a marginal height advantage, but a much longer reach, and he likes to keep his opponents at the end of his jab, hence the nickname "Jabbin' Joe." Like Wilson Jr., DeLomba is confident in his game plan, but understands there's always room to adapt. Sometimes it's a necessity.
"He's a lankier opponent than I'm used to, but I can adapt to anyone at any given time in the ring," DeLomba said. "He might not fight Round 2 the way he fights Round 1. We're ready to make changes.
"We'll have to fight a little different, but this is a good step up for us. We know they'll have a good game plan coming into this fight."
Added Wilson Jr.: "What I do best is jab and box, and that's how this fight will be. A lot of fists will be thrown, but we'll see who the better boxer is."
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.
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., while unbeaten middleweight prospect Khiary Gray-Pitts (5-0, 3 KOs) of Worcester battles New Haven vet Greg McCoy (3-4-1, 1 KO).
Providence junior middleweight Luis Felix (0-4) faces New Bedford, Mass., up-and-comer Ray Oliveira Jr. (3-0, 2 KOs) in a four-rounder and cruiserweight Jean Pierre Augustin (4-0, 2 KOs) of Lawrence, Mass., makes his CES and Twin River debut in a four-round bout against veteran Solomon Maye (1-4, 1 KO) of New Haven. Augustin is fighting under the guidance of his new trainer, five-time world champ Vinny Paz, whom he met last year during filming of the Chad Verdi-produced Paz biopic Bleed For This.
Tickets for "The Revival" are priced at $40.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and available for purchase online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
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