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Former UFC heavyweight title challenger Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga Victorious in pro boxing debut

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Former UFC heavyweight title challenger Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga has a successful pro boxing debut last night (Saturday, Oct. 28) in the co-featured event on the “New England’s Future 4″ card, presented by Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE), at DCU Center, Exhibition Hall, in Worcester.

The 6′ 2”, 280-pound Brazilian, now fighting out of Worcester (MA), fought another pro-debut boxer with limited MMA experience, Alejandro Esquilin Santiago, of Tampa (FL). Gonzaga stalked the southpaw Santiago, landing some hard shots in the opening round. The heavy-handed Gonzaga picked up the pace in the third and his upset-minded opponent responded in a positive fashion. Both fighters exchanged freely in the fourth and final round, neither was hurt during the contest, and Gonzaga was awarded a win by four-round majority decision.

“I thought I’d be more relaxed in the ring like I had been in the gym,” Gonzaga said. “I did my best and came away with a victory. I was too safe in the third round. My punches were much strong and a lot of his punches I blocked with my gloves. This was really great! tonight”

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“I felt good and gave it my all,” Santiago remarked. “He hit me with some shots and gave ’em back. Not only does he have a big nose (“Napao”), he has a strong, big head, too.”

In the main event, popular Hartford (CT) light heavyweight Richard “Popeye The Sailor Man” Rivera remained undefeated, improving his record to 4-0 (3 KOs), with a first-round knockout of an over-matched Hansen Castillo (0-3)

Rivera, not relations to the promoter, first dropped Castillo with a beautifully placed left uppercut and finished the show moments later with a left hook that sent Castillo flying to canvas. Referee Kevin Hope didn’t bother to count.

“My coaches were telling me to be calm because it was a six-round bout,” Rivera explained. “I saw that he had his left down and caught him with an uppercut. I’m strong to the finish because I eat my spinach.”

New Haven junior middleweight Edwin Sosa (11-2-2, 4 KOs) overcame at 15-pound disadvantage, at the very least, en route to a dominant six-round unanimous decision over Anthony “The Animal” Everett (1-7), of Rowley (MA).

Danbury (CT) junior welterweight Omar Bordoy, Jr. (3-0, 1 KO) stopped New York veteran Bryan “The Brick” Abraham (6-31, 6 KOs) in the fourth and final round. Abraham was decked twice and after counting to 10 after Abraham’s second time on the canvas, referee Paul Casey waved off the action.

Three-time national amateur champion Elvis “Chi Chi” Figueroa (3-0, 1 KO), fighting out of New Haven, pitched a complete shutout over a game, pro-debuting Rene Nazare (0-1), of Brazil, for a convincing win by way of a four-round unanimous decision.

Southbridge (MA) welterweight Wilfredo “El Sucaro” Pagan (3-0, 1 KO) pinned Patrick Leal (0-4), of Woburn, on the ropes early, dropping him three times until referee Casey halted the fight midway through the opening round.

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