Willie Gibbs has been to the Mohegan Sun before. In August he thrilled fans in one of ESPN’s fights of the year while losing by knockout to Haitian Sensation, Daniel Edouard. That loss was the last time fans saw the old Willie Gibbs, on April first he promises a public rebirth and when this Philadelphia fighter says it right into your face, with his cousin Bernard Hopkins nodding his support beside him, you’d be wise to believe them.
On Wednesday, the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT, hosted a press luncheon to announce Rich Cappiello’s ESPN2 show on April first featuring Willie Gibbs versus Andres Pacheco. Also included on the card is up and coming New Haven, CT fighter, Elvin Ayala who will be looking to notch his tenth victory in as many fights. Both Ayala and Gibbs were present at the luncheon along with the distinguished presence of Gibbs’ cousin, the undisputed king of all middleweights, Bernard Hopkins.
Hopkins, never at a loss for words whatever the setting, dominated the luncheon soon after promoter Rich Cappiello addressed the assembly. What followed was what could easily be described as an impromptu seminar on the ins and outs of professional boxing, training, and the business that makes it go.
Addressing much of his comments to the young Elvin Ayala, Hopkins described the virtues of living the life of a fighter, not just training for one bout and then the next.
“Your lifestyle is ninety percent of it,” said Hopkins, sipping occasionally from a glass of orange juice. “Life will test you,” he said. “The thing is discipline…Keep good people around you, but you must stay disciplined.”
Hopkins commented on his time in prison and how it was a watershed that forever changed the man he was and set him on the path to what he would become. “The past is a reminder…Losses sometimes, not all the times, are a blessing in disguise.”
Hopkins turned his attention to Gibbs and talk of the war Gibbs had with Edouard last August. “That’s the other Willie Gibbs, yeah, the warrior. Now this is the boxer…Your career starts April first.”
When Gibbs spoke it was clear the family connection has had a positive impact on him and he vows fans will see a changed man on the night of April first. In camp for the April first bout he told his trainer he expects this next bout will be just like his very first.
“This is just like my first fight, my pro debut. Because you know what’s gonna happen when I step in that ring? All eyes on Willie Gibbs…and they’ll see something was wrong with him and this is the rebirth.”
Though the bout with Edouard thrilled fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena with its heated exchanges and multiple knockdowns it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Promoter Rich Cappiello explained how Willie Gibbs weighed one hundred sixty eight pounds the morning of the fight and had just a few hours to make it down to one sixty. Losing that much weight that quickly plays havoc with the body’s electrolytes and by fight time Willie Gibbs had little fuel in the tank, but he would not pull out of the bout and disappoint the busloads of fans that had made the trip to Uncasville, Connecticut to support the Philly native.
On Wednesday, even though the luncheon buffet, held at Todd English’ Tuscany, offered a wide selection of entrees offered at the exotic eatery, Willie Gibbs ate little more than leafy greens and fresh strawberries. When faced with choices of farfalle primavera, sirloin tips, or pork tenderloin, only a dedicated fighter ends up with a plate full of fresh fruit and vegetables in the face of that sort of gastric temptation.
Should Willie Gibbs succeed on April first, his kayo loss last summer will seem far behind him as he starts anew, looking for those “blessings in disguise” that cousin Bernard describes.
Also featured on the Cappiello card is Chucky Tschorniawski, well known to frequent ESPN viewers as Chucky T, fighting in a ten rounder versus Chad Brisson.
Tickets can be purchased by logging onto ticketmaster.com or by going to the Mohegan Sun box office in person.
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