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Focused Lopes zeroes in on rematch with Spence

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Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes and her head trainer, Wayne Lopes, have the kind of unique, unspoken bond few in boxing can relate to.

While father-son relationships are prevalent in the sport, couples working together aren’t nearly as common, even if it is a bit more widespread in female boxing.

For the Lopeses, it’s second nature. Aleksandra and Wayne will celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary in September.

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They met through boxing, back when Aleksandra was a young amateur and needed a few rounds of sparring at Goodie Petronelli’s old gym in Brockton. She went toe-to-toe with Wayne’s son, former pro Manny Lopes, sparking a relationship that has spanned more than a decade.

The two have worked together for Aleksandra’s entire career, which has seen far more highs than lows, and the 38-year-old former world-title challenger will lean on her husband even more in the next two weeks as she prepares for her long-awaited rematch with Ontario’s Natasha Spence(8-3-2, 6 KOs) scheduled for six rounds Friday, May 11th, 2018 at Twin River Casino.

Tickets are priced at $47.00, $102.00, $127.00 (VIP) and $152.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

The event begins with preliminary bouts at 7 p.m. ET with the main card streaming on Facebook via FIGHTNIGHT LIVE beginning at 8.

“Wayne and I are so close,” Lopes said. “We’re very in-tune with each other. If Wayne at one point didn’t have the energy for it anymore, I probably wouldn’t continue to train with anyone else.

“He’s the perfect fit for me. He knows me very well, and he knows how to get me to do certain things, how to manage me. We have so much fun with boxing, and you’ve got to really like it to stick with it. We make it a lot of fun and we still the most fun just going to the gym together and working on things.

“It never gets old, and he never runs out of things to teach me.”

Lopes may need to add a few new wrinkles to avoid another draw against the crafty Spence, who has reunited with former trainer and manager Brian Cohen in preparation for the May 11th rematch. The addition of Cohen, who also trains Providence native and former Lopes rival Kali Reis, to Spence’s camp adds a considerable buzz to next month’s fights (not that it needed one), but Lopes has effectively drowned out any and all distractions.

The Gliwice, Poland native, who works as an attorney at Babanikas, Ziedman & King in Brockton by day, is confident enough in her team and has little concern with who anyone else is working with. Why would she? Her and her husband have been working together from the start, an inseparable, sometimes indescribable, bond spanning close to a decade since Lopes made her professional debut in 2009.

“Honestly, and it’s not just with Natasha, I don’t think I’ve focused or concerned myself with the way people train or who they spar with. I’ve had 25 fights now. I feel like I have an excellent team here at home. We’ve been able to get ready for challenging fights against elite opponents in light of Wayne and I have two very demanding full-time jobs,” Lopes said of her husband, who owns Lopes Grading, a full-service excavation, construction and grading company.

“We have a system set up and a team in place that makes all of this seamless. Wayne and I are good at working on certain things and making adjustments when necessary. We’ve done this so many times. I would not change a single thing in my camp.”

The only thing Lopes hopes changes May 11th is the outcome as she tries to inch closer to her 20th win as a professional. In December, she earned a draw on two of the judges’ scorecards against Spence, but lost, 77-75, on Peter Hary’s card, so there is perhaps a need to be more decisive this time around.

“The first fight, it’s done with. The result was what it was,” Lopes said. “I’ve spent an enormous amount of time overanalyzing it, I think. It’s one of those things where I know what happened and now it’s done. We’re moving forward.

“I think we need to be a little crisper, sharper,” she added. “Without focusing too much on the past, we’ve had excellent sparring and put work into my conditioning. We did all the things we normally do to make sure we’re prepared to win.”

Though she turned 38 earlier this month, Lopes isn’t thinking much other than May 11th — “One thing at a time,” she said — but is confident the outcome will be much different this time around thanks to a few minor tweaks in camp.

For what it’s worth, the showdown with Spence will be the third rematch of her career. She won the first two, beating Reis in 2010 after losing to her in her pro debut and defeating Althea Saunders in 2015 after the two fought to a draw the previous year. Why worry what anyone else is doing? Lopes and her husband appear to have the right blueprint in place.

“I think we are much more prepared for this fight — certain things we did in training camp, we changed up some sparring,” Lopes said. “There are things we worked on that make me feel we are going to fight much more prepared. It’s not an easy fight, for sure, but this is one of the fights that makes this fun.

“We are ready to go. We did our work. We did our preparation. What we do works for us.”

Also on the May 11thcard, Rhode Island’s Rich Gingras (15-5-1, 9 KOs) fights for the first time since 2015 when he battles Atlantic City’s Antowyan Aikens (12-4-1, 1 KO) in a six-round super middleweight bout.

Undefeated super lightweight Anthony Marsella Jr. (8-0, 4 KOs) of Providence returns in his toughest to date, a six-round showdown against Arlington, Wash., native Ricardo Maldonado (8-7-1, 1 KO), and Sicilian heavyweight Juiseppe Cusumano (14-1, 12 KOs) puts his 12-fight win streak on the line in a six-round bout against Bernardo Marquez (8-3-1, 5 KOs) of Riverside, Calif.

Also on the main card, unbeaten Worcester, Mass., native Jamaine Ortiz (8-0, 4 KOs) faces the dangerous Tyrone Luckey (9-8-3, 7 KOs) of Neptune, N.J., in a six-round lightweight bout and regional rivals Marqus Bates (3-2, 2 KOs) of Taunton, Mass., and Mohamad Allam (3-2, 1 KO) of Holyoke, Mass., battle one another in a six-round bout.

Featherweight Ricky Delossantos (4-0, 1 KO) of Pawtucket, R.I., puts his undefeated record on the line against Maryland’s James Early (3-2) in a four-round bout while cruiserweights Jake Paradise (0-1) of Worcester and Leandro Silva (0-1) of Sao Paolo, Brazil each search for their first career win when they face one another in a four-round preliminary bout.

Johnston, R.I. super lightweight Nicky DeQuattro (3-0, 1 KO) returns to Twin River to face Andy Aiello (0-1) of Bridgewater, Mass., in a four-round bout and Derrick Whitley (3-0) of Springfield, Mass., makes his Rhode Island debut in a separate four-round welterweight bout.

Visit www.cesboxing.com, www.twitter.com/cesboxing or www.facebook.com/cesboxing for more information, or follow CES Boxing on Instagram at @CESBOXING.

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