THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Boxers do battle for the wounded

Email|Print| Text size + By Emily Sweeney
Globe Staff / February 3, 2008

M ANSFIELD - Foxborough Police Officer Frank Azevedo slipped on blue and white boxing gloves and climbed into a boxing ring to battle a Louisiana firefighter named J.R. Moore.

Azevedo locked his eyes on his foe and bounced around the ring, dodging Moore's red gloves. With every punch, each boxer made a hissing noise, as they exhaled quickly and forcefully through their mouth guards.

The muffled thumps of Everlast gloves pounding against flesh were punctuated by cheers from the crowd. Shouts of "C'mon, Frankie!" could be heard from the audience, which included various members of the Foxborough Police Department and Azevedo's brother, who sat in wheelchair at ringside.

Azevedo was one of several local boxers who took part in "The Ultimate Showdown II" at the Mansfield Sportsplex last Saturday, a charity boxing event to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, a Florida-based nonprofit that assists injured veterans. The event also helped raise money for Azevedo's brother, Jimmy, who is recovering from a serious motorcycle accident.

The event, which attracted more than 1,000 boxing fans to the Sportsplex, was organized by Manfredo's Gym of Pawtucket, R.I., and Bash For Cash LLC, a Brockton promotions company, and featured both amateur and professional bouts. Sponsors included the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 697 in Whitman, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, and The Cadillac Lounge, a strip club in Providence.

The world of law enforcement was well-represented inside the ring.

Another Foxborough police officer, David Foscaldo, faced off against Eric Flaherty, a state correction officer who works at MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole. In the amateur super heavyweight division, "Easy" Ed Nelson of Brockton fought Steve Gentile, a former New York City police officer. Missy "The Fury" Fiorentino, a sheriff for the State of Rhode Island, captured her third world title that night, defeating Ela "Bam Bam" Nunez for the International Women's Boxing Federation's super featherweight belt.

Other local pros overpowered opponents from out of town.

Mark DeLuca of Whitman had his father, Duxbury Police Chief Mark M. DeLuca, in his corner for his fourth bout as a professional fighter. DeLuca continued his winning streak and preserved his unblemished pro record by knocking out Charles Kirby, a super middleweight from Philadelphia.

Worcester middleweight Edwin Rodriguez made his pro debut with a victory over Samuel Ortiz Gomez of Orlando, Fla., and Watertown native Richard Gingras won his bout in the cruiserweight division, which boosted his pro record to 8-0.

Azevedo didn't win his fight. Moore landed several punches during the three-round bout, and left him with a small cut underneath his left eye.

Azevedo later found out his eye socket had been fractured.

"That's part of the game; it's a tough sport," he said. "It was all for a good reason; it served a good purpose."

The event raised $5,075 for his brother, Jimmy, who was in a motorcycle accident in September 2005 that left him paralyzed from the chest down. The money will allow him to participate in Project Walk, an intensive physical therapy program offered in Canton.

Dennis Marrese, representing Bash for Cash LLC, said the event was a success.

"We're happy we made some money for two good causes," said Marrese.

"Maybe next time someone will hold a fund-raiser for Frank."

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com.

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