Aside from being a little older, and perhaps a bit wiser, the Peter Manfredo Jr. you see today is much different than "The Pride Of Providence" who rose to fame nearly eight years ago as a fan-favorite on the hit, reality television series The Contender.
As he continues his comeback, which began last November with a victory at Twin River Casino, Manfredo Jr. (38-7, 20 KOs) finds himself balancing life both in and outside of the ring, first as a husband and father, and then as a professional boxer.
Nowadays, each morning begins at 4am as Manfredo Jr. commutes to Boston for his day job. Then it’s back to Rhode Island to hit the gym in preparation for his Friday, March 15th, 2013 showdown against fellow Contender Walter Wright (14-3, 7 KOs) before finally heading home to Connecticut with his wife and three children.
The mileage adds up, but it’s worth putting in the extra work moonlighting as a laborer and boxer as long as Manfredo Jr. can avoid the pitfalls that have plagued so many fighters in the aftermath of their professional careers.
"I would never put my kids in this game," said Manfredo Jr., whose 10-round bout against Wright will headline Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ "Unfinished Business" boxing card next Friday at the Twin River Event Center.
"There are no happy endings, not even for some of the best fighters in the world. Joe Louis died broke. Sugar Ray Robinson died broke. There are no pensions or retirement funds. Why do we keep fighting? We’re living within our means when we’re fighting. When you’re not fighting, how do you make ends meets?
"At the end of the day, when you’re 30-something years old and you’ve put your whole career into boxing and now you have to get up to go to work, it’s tough to keep up. There aren’t any happy endings in this business, but maybe someday when I’m retired I can be a spokesperson for kids."
Since he announced his comeback last year, Manfredo Jr. has made it clear he’s fighting to provide for his family. Asked what he would consider a "happy ending," he said, "I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in boxing.
"I’m probably the one percent who’s made it to where I’ve been. I’ve fought some of the best fighters in the world. I fought Joe Calzaghe in front of 30,000 in Wales. I fought Sakio Bika. I fought Jeff Lacy. I fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I’ve fought on HBO, ESPN - all over the world. I won a [International Boxing Organization] world title. If it were to end today, it’d be perfect.
"Now, I’m just doing it for the extra money. It’s a trade, like when guys fought during the Great Depression. God gave me this gift, and I’m going to use it. I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore."
Balancing both careers hasn’t been easy, but the fight in November against Rayco Saunders (a 10-round unanimous-decision win) allowed Manfredo Jr. to shake off the ring rust. Now it’s business as usual as he prepares to face Wright, a Seattle, Wash., native and former quarterfinalist on Season 2 of The Contender, who will be fighting for the first time since 2010.
"I feel good," Manfredo Jr. said. "I’ve been in the gym a lot, whereas before when I was preparing for the last fight I hadn’t been in the gym for a whole year.
"I definitely feel an improvement. Things are a lot better than last time. At the same time, I didn’t get to go to camp [in California with trainer Freddie Roach] because I’m working full-time, but I still feel good as I’m moving along. Everything is coming back to me. I’m getting and now I have to work everyday at 4 a.m. and hit the gym after that, but I’m getting it done. I’m excited for this fight."