|Kenton Sippio-Cook (right) of Austin, Texas|
It has been over ten years since an Austin-based boxer had an opportunity to become a title-holder but that is exactly what is happening this Friday when Kenton Sippio-Cook takes on undefeated Khiary Gray for the vacated UBF Northeast Light-Middleweight title in Lincoln, Rhode Island. There has not been an Austin title-holder in professional boxing since lightweight, Jesus Chavez won the IBF Lightweight World Championship in 2005. Friday's bout is a rare opportunity for a fighter from Austin to bring a championship belt home.
I asked Sippio-Cook what it means to be the first Austin boxer with a title fight since Chavez. Here's his reply:
"It means greatness is a possibility now... an option in my path. Though this is merely a start, I'm grateful to be able to have one. We have a job to do and I plan to do it well. A seek and destroy mission [is] at hand. This guy picked the wrong opponent..."
Sippio-Cook fired the first jab before the contest issuing a statement prior to a press conference held late last month in Gray's hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. While it may seem like a typical barb traded by boxers before a big fight, Sippio-Cook appears ernest in his belief that Gray's people have not done their homework in selecting an opponent for this fight:
“Somebody in Khiary’s team either got lazy with their work in finding an opponent or really just doesn’t care about Khiary. It’s as simple as that.”
“On Sept. 18, he’s going to feel everything,” Gray told the cheering crowd. “He’s going to see me box, he’s going to see me punch, he’s not going to be able to touch me on Sept. 18. The title is coming back to Worcester, and that’s it.”While Sippio-Cook has lost his last two bouts on judges' decisions, he is more experienced at longer fights against stronger fighters. Gray does not have the equivalent of professional experience and is largely untested. It stands to reason Sippio-Cook is hungrier, looking to avenge his two losses (one was a questionable decision) while taking advantage of the opportunity to win a title in front of his opponent's fans in the Northeast. If he does take the title it will be that much sweeter knowing he did it in hostile territory.
Sippio-Cook is managed by Austin amateur boxer and legacy tattoo artist, Keith Underwood. Originally from Chicago, Underwood relocated to Austin after marrying Texas native, Kindel Lee Underwood several years ago. Underwood has owned the highly regarded Austin Tattoo Company since 2009.
While the fight is being broadcast locally in the Rhode Island area, it is not clear a live stream will be available Friday night for Texas fans. Follow promoter, CES Boxing on Twitter for live updates and results on fight night. Fans can follow Sippio-Cook on Twitter and Facebook.
Want to see this fighter in the ring? Check out this slick Sippio-Cook promo video:
Kenton Sippio-Cook: All Work Is Easy Work from Illest Flight on Vimeo.