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PAWTUCKET â Rich Gingras has a lot on his plate these days.
In addition to his everyday duties as the owner and head trainer of his Fight 2 Fitness gym on Blackstone Avenue, the Lincoln resident is hard at work packing on muscle for a fitness competition later this month in Medford, Mass., as well as handling a new project at his gym that offers workouts for people with Parkinsonâs Disease.
Oh yeah, heâs also fighting for the New England light heavyweight championship on Friday night at the Twin River Event Center.
Gingras will carry a 13-4-1 (8 KOs) record into the eight-round main event of Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.âs âUnstoppableâ show against Central Falls native Jaime Velazquez (11-6-2, 6 KOs) in a showdown that promises to fill up the arena with fight fans from both communities.
The 33-year-old Gingras, who has been one of the busiest fighters in southeastern New England, taking three fights in each of the last two years, will make his 2014 debut against a surprise opponent in the 41-year-old Velazquez, who ended a 14 1/2-year hiatus from competition on Feb. 21 to fight former two-time world champion Glen Johnson at Twin River and suffer a fourth-round TKO.
Most fans are predicting a convincing victory for Gingras, but theyâre not spilling their spiel to him. Besides, he doesnât want to hear any of it.
âThatâs irrelevant,â Gingras remarked. âEvery fight needs to be approached aggressively. Iâm going to fight him the same way, but obviously with a little different gameplan.â
Some of those same fans, however, are also questioning Gingras for taking the fight and competing in a fitness competition -- the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) Boston championships on June 28 at the Chevalier Theatre -- in the same month.
Even Gingras, who began training nine weeks ago for the event, began to question himself, but deep down, he feels like he made the right decision to do both.
âWhen I got the phone call for the fight, I took a couple of days to think about it,â he admitted. âIt is pretentious and overambitious to think that you can do both, but I said to myself, âIâm 33 years old. I need to go for it, give it a shot, and see where it goes, and the very least, Iâll have a great story to tell my grandchildren when Iâm an old man.â â
Gingrasâ wife, Alyssa, participated in her first competition, the WBFF Fitness Atlantic competition, on April 12 at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Conn., and received her pro card, and heâs hoping to do likewise when he heads to Boston later this month. If he can do that, he plans to join Alyssa at the WBFF Worlds on Aug. 15 and 16 at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
âIâve tacked on a significant amount of muscle,â said Gingras. âI put on 10 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks, and itâs unbelievable.â
While thatâs good news for Gingrasâ bid for a pro card, what does that mean for his upcoming title fight?
âIâve had a lot of wear and tear on my body,â he added. âAnd I hadnât done any cardiovascular work at all for about five weeks ago because my main goal was to tack on as much muscle as possible. But I havenât felt a decline in my speed and neither have my trainers, and I feel like my power has significantly increased.â
After his fight with Velazquez, Gingras wonât have much time to reflect on it. The following morning, he needs to be back at his gym to prepare for the grand opening of his Rock Steady Boxing program, which primarily focuses on non-contact boxing and fitness training for those with Parkinsonâs Disease.
âRock Steady Boxing is a program based out of Indianapolis,â he explained. âMy business partner and I flew out there and we got certified, and we actually spent four days out there and received hands-on experience with almost 100 people participating.
âWhile I was there, I found out that New England has the highest population of Parkinsonâs Disease in the world. That being said, I was dumbfounded that we didnât have any program like this in New England. I really wanted to bring (the program) back and do something to help these people out, and Iâm glad Iâm going to be able to do that.â
Topping Friday nightâs undercard is Pawtucket middleweight Thomas Falowoâs six-round showdown with Alberquerque, N.M. native Jose Ramirez, who enters the fight with an 11-13 record and in search of his first victory in four years.
Falowo, who is 11-2 (7 KOs) and 10 years younger than the 35-year-old Ramirez, is coming off a bizarre victory in February over Jaison Palomeque at Twin River that saw Falowo batter the Colombian native for 2 1/2 rounds before Palomeque got disqualified 1:57 into the third for throwing a kick at Falowoâs inner thigh.
Tickets for the show are $41, $76, and $126 (for VIP) and available for purchase by calling CES at 724-2253/2254, going online at either www.cesboxing.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or visiting the Players Club at Twin River.
The doors open at 6 p.m. and the first bout is slated for 7. Twin River has also waived its 18+ rule for the show, and anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and enter through the West entrance.
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24