World middleweight contender “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo, Jr. has just about done it all in professional boxing by the age of 30.
He’s already starred in a popular television reality show, The Contender: Season One, challenged Joe Calzaghe for the WBO 168lb. title, and fought Jeff Lacy in a pay-per-view co-feature under Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton.
A true throwback fighter, presently rated No. 5 by the WBC and IBF, Peter was virtually born in a gym (Manfredo’s Gym in Pawtucket, RI), the son of a former world kickboxing champion, Peter Manfredo Sr., who holds a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. The elder Manfredo also was a professional boxer for three years, 1989-92, and he has trained fighters for more than 20 years.
Arguably one of the most recognizable boxers in the world today, largely due to the positive exposure he received on The Contender, Peter was a legitimate boxer long before the bright lights of The Contender first shone upon him.
Manfredo first started boxing at the tender age of seven, competing in his first match as a nine-year-old. He had 165 amateur matches, highlighted by his bronze-medal-winning performance at the 2000 Eastern Olympic Trials. Peter is the only boxer in New England history to receive the “Outstanding Boxer Award” at the Junior Olympics, Silver Mittens, N.E. Golden Gloves and N.E. Tournament of Championships.
At the age of 19, Manfredo turned pro on September 22, 2000, winning a four-round decision against Steve Garrett (1-0) in his debut. Less than two years later, Peter captured the EBA light middleweight championship with an eighth-round TKO of Mike McFail (11-9-1), and he successfully defended his EBA title two months later, winning a unanimous 10-round decision against Charles Clark (14-11-1).
On October 4, 2002, in front of his passionate hometown fans at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Manfredo stepped up in class and registered a seventh-round TKO of former WBC & WBA light welterweight champ Frankie “The Surgeon” Randall (58-12-1), to capture the vacant IBU light middleweight crown. Randall was the first opponent to floor and defeat future Hall-of-Famer Julio Cesar Chavez.
Manfredo’s 19th consecutive victory came at the historic Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, by way of a sixth-round TKO of Leonard Townsend (37-15-1). Peter captured the NABO junior middleweight crown January 23, 2004, via a sixth-round TKO of previously unbeaten Sherwin Davis (17-0, 11 KOs), in an ESPN2 co-feature at Foxwoods.
Later that year, Manfredo captured the NABO light middleweight title with a sixth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Sherwin Davis (17-0). He successfully defended his belt with a 12-round unanimous decision against future fellow Contender Anthony Bonsante (25-3-3) in Providence.
Manfredo was selected as a member of The Contender during the show’s first season. He had to relinquish his NABO title to be in The Contender and then suffered his first loss as a pro in his 22nd pro fight to, at that time, relatively unknown Alfonso Gomez (10-2-1) in the show’s first bout. When fellow New Englander, Jeff Fraza, was medically disqualified from fighting, Manfredo was voted back on The Contender and he made the most of his second chance, defeating Miguel Angel Espino (9-1-1), Joey Gilbert (9-0) and Gomez (12-2-1) in a rematch to qualify for the championship final worth $1-million to the winner.
Manfredo lost an eight-round unanimous decision (69-64, 68-65, 70-73) to unbeaten Sergio “The Snake” Mora (15-0) at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Five months later, Manfredo was back in the ring against Mora in The Contender Special in front of 11,000 fans, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Mora (16-0) won a controversial eight-round split decision (77-75, 77-75, 75-77) in their much-anticipated rematch.
The day after a blizzard in Providence, Manfredo packed nearly 10,000-hometown fans into the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for his main event match-up against his friend, former WBC No. 1 rated super middleweight Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton (29-4-1), in “The Contender Special – East Coast.” Manfredo had moved up two divisions from 154-pounds to his more natural fighting weight of 168 and he never looked sharper, flooring Pemberton three times en route to a third-round TKO.
Crosstown rival Joey “KO Kid” Spina (19-0-1) was next for Manfredo, who devastated his bitter enemy on October 14, 2006, at “The Dunk” in three rounds, setting the stage for a high-profile WBO title fight against 42-0 Joe “Pride of Wales” Calzaghe in his native Wales on April 7, 2007, before 35,000 rabid fans in attendance and millions more live on HBO.
Manfredo, however, never really got untracked as referee Terry O’Connor prematurely halted the action in the third round, as Peter laid on the ropes, slipping and feinting, attempting to wear down Calzaghe. Never in trouble or even remotely hurt, Manfredo was stunned by the referee’s controversial decision to stop the fight, never by his opponent’s wide-slapping punches.
Frustrated by the outcome of the Calzaghe fight, in addition to some unfair media criticism that followed, Manfredo was back in the ring a little more than a month later, stopping tough Ted Muller (19-10-2) in the ninth round of their May 11 fight at Twin River Event Center in Rhode Island. Peter followed that with a win by unanimous 10-round decision against David Banks (14-1-1), who starred in The Contender: Season 3, at Foxwoods.
Manfredo lost a 10-round decision to former world champion Lacy (22-1) in December on the Mayweather-Hatton PPV from Las Vegas, on December 8, 2007.
Peter bounced back, however, with an impressive win by sixth-round TKO against Shane Benfield (17-1) at Twin River, a third-round TKO victory in Idaho versus Luis Lopez (14-12-1), and a second-round stoppage of veteran Donny McCrary (24-7-2).
After the McCrary win, Manfredo got back into the ring with a fellow cast member from The Contender, taking on Season 3 champion Sakio Bika. It was an off night for Manfredo, who had trouble dealing with the constant pressure of Bika, before succumbing via third-round knockout.
Following the Bika defeat, Manfredo went on a tear, riding a six-bout winning streak with victories over Walid Smichet, Ronald Weaver, Matt Vanda, Angel Hernandez, Jhon Berrio and Daniel Edouard. The Hernandez bout, in which Manfredo picked up the IBO middleweight title, had been lauded as a “Fight of the Year” candidate for 2010. On November 12, 2010, Manfredo pulverized the ribs of Berrio for six rounds, finally forcing Berrio to retire in his corner. To start off 2011, Manfredo outworked the game Daniel Edouard over 10 frames, and floored him in the fourth round, to win a unanimous decision, at Mallory Square, in Key West, FL, on January 14.
Ten months later, Manfredo challenged Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for the WBC middleweight title, at the Reliant Arena, in Houston, TX, on November 19. Showing heart and determination, Manfredo pressed the action, looking to get on the inside of the bigger Chavez. He just lacked the speed and power to compete with Chavez during exchanges. A right hand wobbled Manfredo in round five and Chavez followed up with a barrage, forcing a stoppage from the referee.