Sports 03-22-2017

Mazac Gambardella makes professional boxing debut


Revere’s very own Travis Mazac Gambardella made his professional boxing debut last Saturday, March 18, at the House of Blues in Boston on Murphy’s Boxing Saint Patrick’s Clash.

Gambardella and his opponent, New Hampshire’s Ricky Ford battled to a four-round draw in front of a sold out crowd of more than 2,000 people on a card headlined by undefeated contender, Mark “Bazooka” Deluca and an acoustic performance by The Dropkick Murphys.

In a close opening round, Ford, a veteran of over 80 amateur bouts, tried to use his height and reach to keep Gambardella away, but the Revere native, who now trains in California, used impressive head movement and angles to keep the pressure on Ford.

Things picked up in the second round, when Gambardella stunned Ford with an uppercut, wobbling his legs and making him lose his mouthpiece in the process. The referee opted to immediately halt the action to allow Ford to put his mouthpiece back in, giving him time to clear his head instead of waiting for the customary break in the action.

In the third round, Ford, perhaps realizing he was down on the cards, was the busier fighter throwing combinations while Gambardella held back seeming to look for an opening to land another big punch.

With the decision hanging in the balance, the fourth round was action packed with Gambardella seemingly landing the harder shots. The final 10 seconds saw both men exchanging punches trying to impress the judges one last time to cheers from a jam-packed hometown crowd partisan to Gambardella.

In the end, the judges declared the contest a majority draw with two judges having the fight dead even on their cards and a third judge seeing Ford the winner by a round.

With the draw, Gambardella remains undefeated starting his professional career with a record of 0-0-1 while Ford drops to 0-1-1.

Almost immediately however, the fighters, their teams and the event’s promoter, Murphy’s Boxing were talking about the possibilities of a rematch, potentially as early as this spring back in the Boston area.

As for Gambardella, he was thrilled at the local support.

“It was a dream come true,” he said. “Couldn’t have asked for a better experience to turn pro in. The support from my friends, family and the local community was unbelievable. The environment was just electric.”

As for the result, while Gambardella doesn’t exactly agree with the decision, he remains professional and thankful.

“I think I edged it out by scoring with the more impactful shows, but I can understand why the judges had it a draw,” he said. “I have the utmost respect for my opponent as he was a crafty and busy fighter. It was a head to head exciting fight and I’m hoping we can make the rematch happen right back here in the Boston area.”

So, after putting a career in psychics on hold to relocate to Southern California to work with noted trainer, Joseph “Hoss” Janik at the famed Knuckleheadz Boxing Gym, does Gambardella intend to continue his professional career?

“Of course. This is just the beginning. When you find something you love to do it, you do it,” he said.

Gambardella will take the post-fight week off visiting friends and family in Revere before returning to California at the end of the month. His next fight will be announced in the coming weeks.

Nicky States His Case

Napolitano helps St. Mary’s claim state championship

By Cary Shuman

Nicky Napolitano had an assist in the St. Mary’s High School hockey team’s 4-2 victory over Framingham in the Division 1 state championship game Sunday at the TD Garden.

It was the perfect finish to a dream season for the talented 15-year-old Revere sophomore who made the successful jump from fourth line to first line right winger for the Spartans.

Napolitano scored four goals and 11 assists this season and was at his best in the MIAA Tournament, helping to lead the Spartans to victories over Reading, Triton, Arlington Catholic, Andover, and Framingham. His diving block of a shot in the final stages of the Andover game is credited with helping to preserve a tenuous 1-0 lead that became a 2-0 victory on an open-net goal.

Napolitano said he enjoyed competing with his linemates and prided himself on his fortitude and grit.

“My game is to grind, work hard, and never give up,” said Napolitano. “I had better talent on the line in senior captain Dante Maribito, who was a great leader and held us together, and his brother, Damon Maribito, who’s also a super player. I just did a lot of work in the offseason [at CrossFit in Revere] and things came out great. ”

St. Mary’s coach Mark Lee recognized Napolitano’s soild contribution to the team last year and promoted him to a larger role with the varsity.

“Nicky has shown great improvement since he came here last year as a freshman,” said Lee. “He’s a very big part of our offense and a pleasure to coach on and off the ice. He’s a great person.”

Napolitano played in the 2016 state final at the Garden during the Spartans’ heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Franklin in double overtime.

“Our goal was get back to the Garden and win the title,” said Napolitano. “We didn’t want to lose again. I knew we had to win. I knew we would win. And we did.”

Napolitano played in the Revere-Everett Youth Hockey organization through the Pee Wee level before moving on to regional teams. He received the best offensive player award for the St. Mary’s junior varsity team before becoming a full-time, top-line varsity player this winter for Mark Lee’s contingent.

“Coach Lee is the man. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” said Napolitano. “It’s been a good time, a fun experience. He knows the game of hockey. I’m so glad on this team.”

Napolitano’a parents, Nick and Michelle Napolitano, and his twin sister, Kiana, a member of the Revere High girls basketball team, were at the Garden for the Spartans’ crowning achievement.

Napolitano said he was happy to share the title with fellow Revere residents, Jason Loeser, a skater on the third line (“He was a good, solid player for us,” said Napolitano), Jared Coppola, a rising forward, and C.J. Fusco, a goaltender.

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