Lopes, Nelson look to take advantage
of opportunity in next Friday's title bout at Twin River
September 5, 2013
(SEPT 5) PROVIDENCE, R.I.
-- Sometimes the bright lights and anticipation of a sold-out
crowd can overwhelm a fighter long before the bell rings.
Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes considers all the pressure an added
"It makes you want to fight harder," said the female
welterweight from Marshfield, Mass., who'll fight for the vacant
Women's International Boxing Association (WIBA) world title next
Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Twin River Casino. "To give my fans an
opportunity to see me win, in this situation, it's a motivator."
Having won her last 10 fights since losing her professional
debut more than three years ago, Lopes (10-1, 1 KO) is on the
cusp of winning her first world title, but first must get past
the dangerous, undefeated Tori Nelson (6-0-3) of Ashburn, Va., a
former World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight world champion
who is no stranger to fighting under pressure -- or on the road,
for that matter. Including fights in her home state and nearby
Maryland, Nelson has also fought overseas in Bermuda and
Trinidad and Tobago, the latter in 2011 when she beat Lorissa
Rivas for the WBC title.
"That says a lot about her," Lopes said. "I'm excited about
fighting someone like her. I know she's an aggressive fighter.
Our styles will match well and make for an exciting fight."
The 10-round Lopes-Nelson showdown will headline Jimmy
Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports' "Champion Breed"
card, which begins at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6. Tickets
for "Champion Breed" are $41.00, $76.00, and $126.00 (VIP) and
can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at
www.cesboxing.com or twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at
Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location.
Originally from Gliwice, Poland, Lopes began to pick up momentum
early in 2012 when she won the first of five fights in a
13-month span, beating Ashleigh Curry by unanimous decision at
Twin River. Under the tutelage of her head trainer -- and
husband -- Wayne Lopes, she cemented her status as a legitimate
world-title contender less than a year later with a critical win
over hometown favorite Adelita Irizarry at Mohegan Sun. That's
when the dream of winning a title began to seem like more and
more like a reality.
"It had even more to do with what we saw in the gym, too," Lopes
said. "You have to put in a lot of time to be successful in this
sport, and after a while it all started coming together. Even
when we were just training, we saw distinct progress. There are
things I can do really well now that I couldn't do two years
ago, like something simple like throwing multi-punch combos. I
do that really well. A couple of years ago, I couldn't execute
them. It's simple stuff - not rocket science.
"When you start seeing that kind of improvement, you want to go
back and start seeing what else you can do. Things are
instinctual now, whereas I couldn't do it before, or I thought
too much while I was in the ring. After a while, it becomes
second nature. When you learn how to problem-solve and adjust,
it becomes fun. Then once we started fighting regularly, we put
the plan in place."
Consider Sept. 13 judgment day for Lopes, a culmination of all
the hard work she's put into her career both in and outside of
the ring. In addition to her boxing career, Lopes is also a
practicing attorney working at a law firm in nearby Brockton,
Mass., after passing the bar in November. Her firm handles civil
litigation, workman's compensation, wills, estate planning and
personal injury cases, among others, leaving Lopes with a full
plate on a daily basis.
"Thankfully, I have real excellent time-management skills,"
Lopes said with a laugh. "I graduated [the New England School of
Law] with honors, so even back then I had to box and work
"I'm kind of used to my schedule being overloaded. It actually
makes me perform better. With boxing, you need a little more
rest with the level of training that comes with these fights. I
wish I had a little more time to recover, but I train smarter
now. My training is real focused. Thankfully, it all falls into
Having the right team in place has been equally important,
starting with her husband, Wayne, whose sons Manny Lopes and
Artie Lopes also boxed professionally. The two met at Goody
Petronelli's legendary gym in Brockton, where former
middleweight champion Marvin Hagler got his start. One week from
next Friday, they'll be celebrating their fifth wedding
"We're a great team," Lopes said. "I honestly couldn't see
myself doing this with anybody else. Wayne and I mesh well. He
knows how to manage my training, my stress level -- everything
that comes with fighting. He's very patient. He knows how to get
the best out of me. He makes it fun. Sometimes, when you're
in-depth in training camp it gets tiresome, but he keeps it
Lopes was originally scheduled to face veteran Lisa Noel Garland
next Friday, but Garland was forced to withdraw due to an
injury. The transition to Nelson was seamless; Lopes had already
studied up on Nelson long before Garland withdrew from the
fight, knowing full well she might have to face her at some
point down the line. That opportunity has come a bit sooner than
expected, but Lopes is prepared for what she considers a "more
legitimate opponent" considering Nelson has fought tougher
competition in more adverse conditions, similar to what she
might face next Friday.
This will be Nelson's first fight at the welterweight limit of
147 pounds; she spent the first three years of her career
hovering between 150 and 160 as a middleweight.
"I'm really excited," Nelson said. "I like to come out fighting
the best, and she is highly-ranked. I know this is going to be a
great bout. I'm just looking forward to it being safe and being
my first welterweight victory."
Neither fighter figures to be bothered by the magnitude of next
week's bout. If anything, Lopes will thrive off the added
pressure with what she hopes is a boost from her hometown fans.
"When I had less experience, I actually felt more pressure,"
Lopes said. "In recent years, I've stayed busy and come to
realize the tremendous amount of support I have, from people
wishing me luck to being there at every fight. It seems like
everyone is behind us. There will be people in that crowd next
Friday who have followed me since my first amateur fight. It'll
be a lot of fun."
The undercard of "Champion Breed" features a six-round
cruiserweight showdown between Josh Harris (9-6-1, 7 KOs) of
Providence, R.I., and undefeated Beaumont, Tex., veteran Quantis
Graves (8-0, 4 KOs), a former amateur standout who was an
alternate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in the heavyweight
division. Known for his tremendous punching power, Harris
recently stopped 25-year-old prospect Sevdail Sherifi, who was
9-1-2 at the time, in New York City in April. Cranston, R.I.,
welterweight Nick DeLomba (1-0) will step up to face Evincii
Dixon (2-1, 1 KO) of Lancaster, Pa., in a six-round bout. Dixon
trains under the guidance of Terry Nye, who formerly worked with
two-time welterweight world champion Kermit Cintron. DeLomba,
who began his professional career four months ago with a
six-round unanimous-decision win over Jimmy Smith, plans on
dedicating his fight to Rhode Island's Gary Balletto, who is
recovering from an accident at his home in July. The undercard
will also feature a four-round welterweight bout between
Cranston's Jon Smith (2-0, 1 KO) and Antonio Chaves Fernandes
(3-11-2) of Brockton. Fernandes is coming off a draw against
previously-unbeaten welterweight Greg Vendetti and a
majority-decision win over Jesus Javier Cintron in August.
As an added bonus, Twin River and CES have teamed up to offer
fight fans and VIP customers an exclusive offer with their
ticket purchase. Show your ticket stub at the event, join the
Twin River Rewards Club and get a free $25 Twin River gift card
and two free tickets to a Twin River concert. CES has upped the
ante by offering an additional $25 gift certificate to either
Meritage or Chardonnay's restaurant in Rhode Island with the
purchase of a $126 Jimmy's Club VIP ticket.