September 8, 2013

Maine boxer takes on the fight of his life

A light welterweight boxer from West Forks Plantation will fight his third professional bout – with his community's firm support.

By MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 3)

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Brandon Berry is turning to a professional boxing career in the hope that it will help him save his family’s general store in West Forks Plantation.

Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

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Brandon Berry stocks shelves during his afternoon shift at the family’s general store.

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12TH ANNUAL FIGHT TO EDUCATE

WHEN: Thursday

WHERE: Verizon Wireless Center, Manchester, N.H.

TIMES: Silent auction starts at 5:30 p.m.; boxing begins at 8 p.m. Event raises money for at-risk and disadvantaged children.

BOUTS: Six-fight card: three amateur, three professional.

The event is headlined by two welterweight matches: Danny "Bhoy" O'Connor of Framingham, Mass., will fight Raul Tover Jr. of McAllen, Texas; Chris Gilbert of Windsor, Vt., will fight Anthony Chase of Providence, R.I.

In the light welterweight match, Brandon Berry of West Forks Plantation will fight Jesus Cintron of Springfield, Mass.

And Jones is not a boxer, but a mixed martial arts fighter.

Berry beat Jones with a technical knockout in the May fight. The two fought again in July after Jones asked for a rematch, and Berry knocked him out a minute and a half into the third round.

Still, odds against Berry earning a big payday are daunting.

The paying public is only interested in seeing undefeated contenders, the best of the best, which means that professional boxing is a game of enormous risk. Fighters must win almost every fight to advance their careers.

Berry estimates he has to build a streak of 20 or 25 consecutive wins before he can compete for purses of $25,000 or $50,000, and after that the prizes grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But not every boxer can win every match. For every victory, there is a defeat.

There is no sanctioned global list of active boxers, but BoxRec, an online database, ranks Berry 1,048 out of 1,550 active light welterweights in the world. That's a long climb to the top.

Berry said he's got the mindset, work ethic, trainer and support network to make it happen.

And few fighters have Berry's motivation. He's sick of the store serving as the economy's punching bag, taking punishment but never dishing it out.

At this stage in Berry's career, it's hard for anyone to know whether he's the real deal.

On Thursday, Berry will climb into the ring in Manchester and lead with his heart in front of thousands of spectators.

Berry said his odds are improved by the support of the people of West Forks, many of whom have traveled to see him trade blows with someone from away.

In the ring, he tries to focus on the fight. But, inevitably, he'll hear someone he knows call out encouragement. Sometimes he'll lock eyes with a friend in the crowd.

"That's a spark," he said. "I know damn well there were some fights I would have lost if I didn't have people there supporting me."

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

mhhetling@mainetoday.com

 

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Additional Photos

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A trophy case highlighting the boxing career of Brandon Berry lines the main aisle in the family’s store.

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Brandon Berry’s home gym is in the former service garage next to his family’s general store in West Forks Plantation.

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The former service garage next to the store where Brandon Berry works out.



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