Peter Manfredo Jr - Interview on Angel Hernandez, Joe Calzaghe, Jeff Lacy, Sergio Mora and More
By Media Report on Doghouse Boxing (May 5, 2010)    
20 Minutes With: Peter Manfredo Jr. There’s hunger. And then there’s hunger. For an established million-dollar fighter, the drive for success in the ring need only stretch as far as the next big payday.

But for Peter Manfredo Jr., it has to go a little farther. The Providence-born middleweight – who’ll celebrate both his 10th anniversary as a professional and his 30th birthday later this year – carries the dual purpose of career advancement and family well-being with him every time he dons the gloves, shoes and trunks.

It’s not just a hobby. In addition to his membership in a Rhode Island labor union, it’s his job. A job that could get more lucrative pending the events of May 22, when he’ll face veteran Angel Hernandez for the International Boxing Organization’s vacant 160-pound title at the Mohegan Sun Casino in nearby Connecticut.

It’s the third chance at world title honors for Manfredo, who was beaten by future Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe in a challenge for the WBO super middleweight crown in 2007 and lost a bid for the IBO’s vacant belt at 168 pounds to Sakio Bika 19 months later.

He’s won three straight since the Bika fight and is making his first championship run at 160 pounds, where he spent a significant chunk of his early career – including a second-place finish to future world champion Sergio Mora in the debut season of “The Contender” in 2005.

Manfredo has lost just twice – by decision to Mora and fellow alumnus Alfonso Gomez – in 16 career fights at or below 160 pounds. In his most recent fight, on Jan. 29 at the Mohegan Sun, he won a wide 10-round decision over Matt Vanda after weighing in at 159¾.

He chatted recently with about his motivation, how he reacts to criticism of his TV past and what another chance to become a world champion means to him. You’ve been at this for 10 years and you’ll be turning 30 later this year. How much longer do you plan on doing it, and have you accomplished what you set out to do when you began?

Peter Manfredo Jr.:
When I first turned pro, I said I’d never do it past age 30. But things have changed now. I look at it one fight at a time and it’s a job. I do this and I’m in a labor union in Rhode Island and it’s how I support my family and help pay for my wife to go to school to be a nurse. My goal was always to become a world champion and I have another chance to do that now with the IBO. It’s now been five years since your time on “The Contender,” but it’s probably still how most fans identify you. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Peter Manfredo Jr.:
I’m actually flattered by it. It’s a great thing. Not too long ago I had people at a resort in the Dominican Republic who knew who I was, and it’s that way no matter where I am in the world. These people love boxing and they don’t care if you’re the best in the world or not, just as long as you’re a good person and you carry yourself well. That’s what makes a champion. The belts don’t mean nearly as much. Now I’m getting the opportunity to be a champion again. That’s a bonus. Detractors will look at your career and say “sure, he was on TV, but he lost to Calzaghe, he lost to Jeff Lacy and he lost to Bika, so he’s just a second-tier guy.” How do you respond to those people?

Peter Manfredo Jr.:
I do hear it, but it doesn’t bother me. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. I look at it like I was fighting in a weight class I didn’t belong it. And the guys I lost to were the best in the world. My losses were to world champions. At the end of the day, all I worry about is whether I did my best and if I can feed my family. People can talk about how I never won the big one, but I still work hard and I train and that’s why four or five thousand people will still come to see me every time I fight. I’m happy with where I’m at and that I’ve done well for myself. I’ve accomplished a lot for a small guy and I’m proud of it. Now that you’re at 160 pounds, might that keep you boxing a little longer than if you’d stayed at 168?

Peter Manfredo Jr.:
Exactly. You look at the guys I fought and it was obvious I didn’t belong there. They were all bigger than me. But in this class I can take better advantage of my size and I know I can take harder shots because of what I did at 168. I fought Vanda at 160 and I took care of him easily. He was a tough competitor and I blew him away. I think that proves I was in the wrong weight class. If things go well on May 22 and you win the IBO belt, will you consider yourself among the best at 160 pounds like any other champion?

Peter Manfredo Jr.:
Most definitely. It’s a world championship on the level with any of the others. I have to work just as hard to get this one as they did to get theirs. And if any of the other guys don’t believe that, then they can fight me and whoever wins can be called the best. I want to fight all the top guys. That’s the object of the game, to fight the best and get out with your brains still intact. Hopefully I can get the big fights, make some more money and get the nice
pool my kids want and go from there.

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