Boston-area fans will be treated to fireworks this Memorial Day weekend as a full slate of exciting undercard fights come to Agganis Arena on Saturday, May 23. The undercard action is highlighted by Boston’s own Danny O’Connor (25-2, 9 KOs) taking on the fighting pride of Vermont, Chris Gilbert (13-1, 10 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight battle for the New England welterweight championship title.
Undercard fights will support the Premier Boxing Champions on NBC show featuring the super middleweight showdown between Olympic medalists Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs) and James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (26-1, 17 KOs) taking on the undefeated Craig Baker (16-0, 12 KOs).
O’Connor vs. Baker will put two of the most popular fighters in the New England area on display as the slick boxing O’Connor will look to pick apart the hard-charging Gilbert. The bout will be the final event of the evening and close down the show in spectacular fashion at Agganis Arena.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to fight Chris in Boston,” said O’Connor. “Being able to do what I love in front of my hometown fans that have supported me since day one is very meaningful to me.”
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to fight on such an amazing card,” said Gilbert. “I’m coming off a first round knockout last week and I plan to bring the same intensity, aggressiveness and hard hitting style into the ring this week. O’Connor has been at the top of the welterweight division, whether in the amateurs or pros, and I’m excited to see how my skills compare.”
“This is a fight that local fight fans have been eager to see for a long time,” said Ken Casey, President and CEO of Murphys Boxing. “New England’s premiere welterweight versus New England’s hardest hitting welterweight. Pride can be worth more than money sometimes and the right to call yourself ‘New England welterweight’ champ is very important to a fighter in this close knit community.”
The undercard will also feature a highly anticipated 10-round middleweight contest that pits Gary O’Sullivan (20-1, 13 KOs) against Melvin Betancourt (29-1, 23 KOs) as both men look to prove themselves as contenders in the division.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Murphys Boxing, are priced at $250, $200, $100, $75, $50 and $35, not including applicable service charges and taxes, and are on sale now. Tickets will be available at www.ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.
Further action will feature the six round featherweight bout between local favorite Ryan Kielczweski (22-1, 6 KOs) and Anthony Napunyi (15-14, 8 KOs) and a six round junior lightweight bout that showcases Logan McGuinness (22-0-1, 10 KOs) taking on Christian Esquivel (17-13, 15 KOs). Plus undefeated prospect Immanuel Aleem (12-0, 8 KOs) facing David Toribio (21-14, 14 KOs) in a six or eight-round middleweight swing bout.
Also stepping into the ring at Agganis Arena is undefeated knockout artist Jonathan Guzman (18-0, 18 KOs) who takes on Christian Esquivel (27-6, 20 KOs) in an eight-round junior featherweight matchup. Heavyweight prospect Danny Kelly (7-1-1, 1 KO) will take on Curtis Lee Tate (7-5, 6 KOs) in a six-round heavyweight attraction while Antonio Russell (1-0,1 KO) taking on Brandon Garvin (0-1) in a four-round bantamweight fight. Kicking off the action in the arena is undefeated prospect Edwin Espinal (5-0, 4 KOs) who will take on Alvaro Enriquez (12-13-2, 4 KOs) in a four round light heavyweight fight.
A former National Golden Gloves champion who has fought as a pro since 2008, O’Connor was set to face former two-division champion Paulie Malignaggi, but will now return home for a May 23 bout. The 30-year-old out of Framingham, Massachusetts is coming off of back-to-back knockout victories over Michael Clark and Andrew Farmer and looks to leave a big impression on his hometown fans.
A hard-hitting fighter out of Windsor, Vermont, Gilbert has become a staple throughout New England, appearing on cards all around the region since turning pro in 2011. The 30-year-old boasts an impressive knockout percentage and just last week recorded his tenth professional stoppage with a first round knockout over Raphael Valenzuela. He takes a step up in competition when he battles O’Connor on May 23.
A resident of Cork, Ireland, O’Sullivan will be fighting for the fifth time as a professional in the state of Massachusetts, where he is yet to lose. At 30-years-old, he has won his last four fights since a defeat to Billy Joe Saunders in 2013, including three straight by knockout. He will take on a strong opponent making his U.S. debut in Betancourt. The fighter out of Villa Gonzalez, Dominican Republic has won nine fights in a row.
A runner-up in the 2008 National Golden Glove tournament, the 25-year-old Kielczweski has become a staple fighting in his home state of Massachusetts. Born and raised in Quincy, he hopes to rebound from the first loss of his career, a split decision defeat to Danny Aquino in April of this year. He will take on the 32-year-old Napunyi, who is coming off of a third round TKO victory over Joshua Omukhulu in January of this year. Fighting out of Canal Point, Florida, he hopes to make it back-to-back victories on May 23.
Fighting out of Ontario, Canada, McGuinness will make his second start in the U.S. after debuting in April with a first round TKO over Carlos Fulgencio at Memorial Hall in Massachusetts. The 27-year-old will take on the 35-year-old Cuevas out of Mexico City.
An undefeated prospect out of Richmond, Virginia, the 21-year-old Aleem will take on the very dangerous and experienced 35-year-old Toribio out of Miami.
With a perfect knockout percentage, the 25-year-old Guzman looks to build off of his Massachusetts debut, which saw him knockout Juan Guzman in the fifth round in February of this year. Fighting out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic he returns to the ring to take on 28-year-old Esquivel out of Temoaya, Mexico.
The 23-year-old Kelly will return to the same city where he delivered a first round TKO of Eric Newell in June 2014 looking for another big victory. The fighter out of Washington D.C. will take on the 31-year-old Tate out of Oakland, Tennessee.
Another native of Washington D.C., Russell made his professional debut this year with a second round knockout over Harold Reyes in January. The 22-year-old takes on Philadelphia’s Garvin.
A 22-year-old prospect who has racked up five wins since turning pro in February of this year, Espinal will get back in the ring again on May 23. The fighter out of Providence, Rhode Island will take on the 33-year-old Enriquez out of Tlaxcala, Mexico.