Berry punches ticket to professional career, one fight at a time
Stockton Springs — By all accounts, Brandon Berry has gotten just as much out of the sport of boxing as he has put into it over the last couple of years.
Berry, 25, has made the trek from his hometown of West Forks to Stockton Springs three times a week to train at Wyman's Boxing Club, a commute that adds about 700 miles to his odometer each week. He's fought alongside his teammates in amateur matches all over New England, and, more recently, realized his dream of boxing at Boston's Night at the Fights at the TD Garden in January, where he defeated his opponent, Julio Perez, before a crowd of about 5,000.
In February, Berry realized another dream when he boxed in another building in which he'd always wanted to compete during the New England Golden Gloves tournaments — the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Mass. Those walls, marveled Berry, have housed fights for boxing names like Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson, and now he is able to say that he, too, fought within them.
In addition to making great gains in the amateur boxing world — at the New England Golden Gloves semifinals, Berry lost by a split decision to a fellow 141-pound fighter named Timmy Ramos, who has competed twice at the national level.
In fact, Berry has kept quite busy in the four years since he started working with his coach, Wyman's Boxing Club owner and former amateur boxer Ken "Skeet" Wyman, and in a couple of weeks, Berry will begin a new chapter in his career when he officially turns from amateur status to a professional boxer.
Berry will make his pro debut at Skowhegan High School as part of the Pro-Am Boxing tournament scheduled for Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. Berry will go up against "Bad" Billy Jones, a fighter who Wyman said has a mixed martial arts background and will provide a great opponent for Berry's first pro fight. Wyman said the event will be the first time a pro fight has been held in Maine in eight years — he knows, because he hosted the last one, at Searsport District High School.
Wyman said Berry has grown immensely in the four years since he started coming to train with him in Stockton Springs, and that he is pleased to see Berry reach such a big goal.
"When Brandon first came here, it was his intent to someday go pro," said Wyman. "Now Brandon has become that big fish in a small pond."
The game will change once Berry makes the switch, Wyman said, as he will no longer be permitted to wear head protection while in the ring and he will be fighting with smaller gloves. The fights will be fewer and further between, they will be in locations all over the country and will involve more skilled boxers with more fights under their belts.
But Berry said he's ready for what's coming next.
"It's very exciting, of course, I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas," said Berry. "But I've grown to be able to stay calm and not get too overwhelmed."
After all, the stakes may be a bit higher now, but, Berry said, the ring is still the same size and his opponent, whether on an amateur or pro card, is still looking to defeat him. And that, he said, is where his focus needs to be at all times.
"It's just one round at a time, and then it will be one fight at a time," he said.
And to turn professional in his home region, said Berry, is a great bonus to what already promises to be an exciting evening for him, his relatives and friends. Berry said his home area tends to be a bit slow this time of year, and it will be nice to give his neighbors an economic boost while also promoting a sport he loves.
"It'll bring people into the area and show everyone this is a positive thing," he said. "Everyone benefits from it."
Through it all, Berry said, while it's been nice to box in some larger venues and log some impressive wins along the way, he treasures the friendships that the sport has brought him most of all — he hosts former opponents at his home, and is always eager to catch up with a competitor again at another boxing event.
One former opponent in the 141-pound class, Tommy Duquette of Waltham, Mass., has traveled to visit Berry in his hometown on more than one occasion.
"We are such opposites, but we have boxing in common," said Berry. "We're friends because of a sport, but friendship is so much bigger than that."