PROVIDENCE -- Youth won out last night, as it usually does in a boxing ring.
Peter Manfredo Jr., 25, once a sparring partner for 39-year-old former super middleweight title contender Scott Pemberton, bombed out Pemberton at 2:06 of the third round, dropping him twice and then staggering him a third time with a stinging straight right hand to the head that convinced referee Dick Flaherty that Pemberton had had enough.
Manfredo's speed advantage was clear from the outset, and Pemberton never had an answer for it. He kept looking to land the right hand that had stopped 24 of his 34 previous opponents but he couldn't find the leverage or timing to deliver it, the rust of age having slowed his greatest tool. Meanwhile, Manfredo was controlling the real estate at the Dunkin' Donuts Center and the fight's pace with his jab and superior hand speed.
''I felt really tight," said Pemberton. ''I'm a notorious slow starter. Unfortunately, the fight was over before I got started."
Manfredo repeatedly beat Pemberton to the punch, getting in and out before the older man could react, until he finally caught him with a left hook and a short right uppercut early in the third round as Pemberton was trying to take a knee after being hurt with a wide left hook. That uppercut snapped Pemberton's head up and drove him back down to one knee, short-circuiting his thinking.
Although he was up at the count of five, he was never the same; Manfredo sensed it and quickly moved in. Pemberton sagged on the ropes, and Manfredo battered him with hooks to the ribs and short right hands around the head. Pemberton blocked many of them and fired back himself, trying to land the right hand counter that had dropped Omar Sheika when he similarly seemed to have Pemberton in trouble. But this time he never came close to reversing a tide that was running against him.
''We knew each other so well," Manfredo said. ''He knew what I had and I knew what he had. We both knew it was a crossroads fight. If I'd lost, I would have hung it up. Three strikes [i.e. three straight losses] and I'm out. But I was focused on what I had to do."
Not long after Pemberton got up, Manfredo (25-3, 11 KOs) was focused on mayhem and quickly delivered it. Another long right hand hit Pemberton as he was pulling away, and he fell into the turnbuckle and tumbled a second time.
Although the blow that dropped him was far from flush, Pemberton was still reeling from the first knockdown, and when he got up this time, everyone knew what was coming. His fate, and Manfredo's, had been decided. All that was left was for an ending to be written, and it was when Pemberton walked into one more lashing right hand that struck the side of his head. That punch very likely ended a proud man's career.
''I turned pro at an older age than Peter is now," Pemberton said. ''One thing about being a kid, you got the speed."
That's what Manfredo needed, and it was what he had. He had youth, speed, and the right opponent -- an old one.
On the undercard, it was a tough night for former ''Contender" Jonathan Reid (34-4), who lost a majority decision to Mohamad Said (18-4) in a four-round middleweight fight. But another ex-member of the reality show cast, Miguel Espino (11-2-1), pounded out a lopsided eight-round decision over Dorian Beaupierre (12-5-2).
Providence cruiserweight Matt Godfrey (11-0, 6 KOs) continued his successful run at the expense of warhorse Ernest ''M-16" Mateen (28-13-3), stopping the 39-year-old in the second round. He kept pressuring until Mateen concluded the wise choice was to wait to fight another day, since he had no intention of doing so last night.
In the opening fight, Hartford featherweight Matt Remillard (7-0, 6 KOs) didn't need much more than a minute to dispense with Garvin Crout (11-8-1), stopping him with a swift barrage of punches.