In the quiet environs of the new Broadway Boxing Club at the old Everett high school building, two men are preparing for the biggest night of their respective careers.
One is Greg Vendetti, a rising 30-year-old fighter, who will step into the ring on Aug. 29 in Los Angeles to battle Erislandy Lara for the WBA Super Middleweight Championship. The other is his well-known and highly respected trainer Joe Ricciardi, who is working on strategy and technique with Vendetii, who is nicknamed “The Villain.”
Vendetti’s fight will be televised live as the main event on Fox TV’s Premier Boxing Champions card.
If this were normal circumstances, family and friends from Vendetti’s hometown of Stoneham would be flocking to Everett to watch his workouts. But because of the coronavirus, Vendetti and Ricciardi are working out alone at the gym. There will be no spectators allowed at the world title fight in Los Angeles.
Main event, world title, and national television are magical terms in the sport of boxing. A potential TV audience of millions will likely be watching the fight worldwide.
“What else can you say? I’m excited,” said Vendetti, a 2008 graduate of Northeast Regional High School in Wakefield where he was a star linebacker and specialized in the plumbing program. “I feel that we’re ready and have done everything we can to get ready for the fight. I’m in a position to do my best. Is my best good enough to win? I really feel like it is. But we’ll find out on the 29th.”
Vendetti last fought in the main event of a July, 2019 show at Encore Boston Harbor, winning the IBA title in impressive fashion before a large crowd of his supporters.
“I was supposed to have another fight in April, but it got canceled because of COVID-19,” he said.
Vendetti (22-3-1, 12 knockouts) has watched video of Lara (26-3-3 with 15 knockouts) in his past fights.
“Let’s face it, pound for pound, he’s one of the best fighters of the last decade,” said Vendetti. “But his last three performances weren’t great and he’s getting up there in age (37). And his style has problems with my style. He doesn’t really like a lot of pressure.
“I think they picked me because I’m entertaining enough to be profitable, but I’m not considered dangerous enough to be a threat,” said Vendetti. “But I think they messed up. They don’t know about me. I think it’s a good opportunity to show the world that I’m the real deal.”
Vendetti said his fans are excited about the bout.
“Everyone is pumped for me. Everybody is excited,” he said. “They’ve been following me since my amateur career. People think I have a real shot against him. It’s my time. I’m really confident.”
Vendetti, who is managed by Artie DePina, likes the atmosphere at the new boxing club in Everett. “The gym is awesome. It has everything you need. There is a lot of potential having a boxing gym in this city. There are a lot of kids who might take up boxing and I think they’ll find out this is exactly the outlet they need.
Vendetti said he and Ricciardi have been a team since Day 1 of his boxing career.
“I walked into the gym in Saugus and Joe said, ‘come back tomorrow and we’ll get started,’ and I never went away,” said Vendetti. “He saw something in me and put in the time and effort and made me the fighter I am today.”
“He’s ready for this title shot,” said Ricciardi. “He’s beaten some good fighters with good records. We’ve been training hard and Greg has been getting better with each and every fight. This has been a 15-year journey, but it’s been worth it. This fight couldn’t happen at a better time. We’re not going to LA to just be there. We’re going there to win.”
Vendetti’s parents, George and Deborah Vendetti, his sister, Alex, and his girlfriend, Midori, will be traveling to Los Angeles for the title fight, but will have to view it on television at a separate location.
Dennis Willcox, co-director of the Broadway Boxing Club, said the club is honored to have a world title contender training in Everett.
“It’s perfect for the young kids to see,” said Willcox. “Greg sets a great example. He trains hard and there a lot more people rooting for him than he knows.”
Willcox said he is grateful to Mayor Carlo DeMaria for opening up the building for a boxing club.
“I think this club will be a positive development for the youth of Everett and we’re thankful to Mayor DeMaria for the opportunity,” said Willcox.