Ball Jr. Aims For Landmark Victory On April 17
Itís not often a fighter gets an opportunity to face someone
he grew up watching or, in some cases, even idolizing.
Consider Kendrick Ball Jr. one of the fortunate few.
And while it may be a bit of an exaggeration to bill this as
a "passing of the torch," the Worcester, MA, super
middleweight prospect knows his April 17, 2021 showdown
against former world title-holder Bryan Vera is the type of
the fight that can get him noticed and move him one step
closer to where he wants to be.
In what will be his toughest, most important, test to date,
the 28-year-old Ball (@kendrick.92) faces Vera, a veteran of
44 professional fights, in the eight-round main event of
Granite Chin Promotions' upcoming fight card at the
SportsZone in Derry, NH. The bout, co-promoted by Ballís
promoter, CES Boxing, will be held for the vacant WBC USNBC
Silver Super Middleweight Title. Ticket information will be
available soon at Granite Chin's website.
With 18 fights under his belt, Ball is still very much a
prospect in the competitive super middleweight division, a
weight class currently ruled by the likes of Caleb Plant Ė
fresh of his dominant win this past weekend over Caleb Truax
Ė and wily veteran Danny Jacobs, but also ripe with
opportunity for young-up-comers, among them power-puncher
Edgar Berlanga, who has stopped each of his first 16
opponents in the opening round.
Where does Ball fit into the puzzle? He recently cracked
BoxRecís top 50 among 168-pounders in the United States,
nestled alongside fellow prospects Money Powell IV and
fellow New Englander Elvis Figueroa, and has done his best
to stay busy amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Ball last
fought in August in a keep-busy fight against Tahlik Taylor,
earning the win via first-round knockout to run his record
Defeating Vera in April would push his increasing popularity
to new heights. Those whoíve followed the sport long enough
know Veraís resume; the Texas native, now 39, turned pro in
2004 and won his 14 fights before becoming a household name
on The Contender reality television series. Vera jumped
between 160 and 168, but earned some of his most impressive
wins at middleweight, including a knockout against then
unbeaten prospect Andy Lee in 2008 and a pair of wins over
fellow Contender vet Sergio Mora. His second win over Mora
in 2012 earned him sole possession of the NABO middleweight
title and launched arguably the most successful stretch of
his pro career in which he defended the belt twice against
prime contenders Serhiy Dzinziruk and Donatas Bondorovas.
The latter half of Veraís career includes two bouts against
former world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and hard-fought
battles against Willie Monroe Jr. and Rocky Fielding, again
with Vera jumping between 160 and 168.
Ball remembers watching Vera at the height of his reign and
considers himself a fan. He also shared the stage with Vera
in August in New Hampshire; after Ball made quick work of
Taylor, Vera wiped out veteran Mike Anderson in 61 seconds
for the first of back-to-back wins in 2020.
"When I saw him fight that night, I told my father, ĎI want
that fight,í" Ball said. "When this opportunity came up, I
knew I had to take it.
"Iím excited," he continued. "I need to show people that
this is where Iím supposed to be. I deserve this
opportunity. Now itís time to show everyone what I can do
against a top opponent."
This is no doubt a step up in class for Ball, who has won
six in a row since his lone pro loss in 2018 and has kept
busy between fights with top-quality sparring, notably with
current WBO world middleweight champion and Providence, RI,
native Demetrius Andrade. The time off from the pandemic
gave Ball enough time to both take a much-needed break from
training and sparring and jump right back into the gym when
the time came to knock off the rust and get back to work. He
focused a lot on his defense, especially in his August
matchup with Taylor, who missed weight and tipped the scales
at a whopping 181 pounds.
"Having never fought at that weight, I didnít know what to
expect," Ball said. "I just had to be on my ĎAí game. I
tried to box and move and let the knockout come to me.
"Thatís a lot of what weíve been working on. Iíve really
been focusing on my boxing more than usual Ė not trying to
get hit a lot, and trying to be more cautious.
"With this fight, Iíll have more time to prepare than Iíve
ever had in my career. This is the first time Iíve been able
to really focus on one guy and get ready for him, and thatís
a benefit for me. I think Iíll be a lot stronger than anyone
Training alongside his father and head coach, Ken Ball Sr.,
at Camp Get Right Boxing in Worcester, the younger Ball
expects to be at his best physically and mentally come April
17. In addition, heís fully committed to staying at 168, a
wise move for the 6-foot-2 right-hander who debuted as a
true middleweight and has fought between 160 and 164 pounds
several times early in his career. Super middleweight simply
feels more comfortable.
The end game for Ball is to reach the top of his profession
Ė that point where boxing is full-time job and no longer the
"side hustle" it starts out as for many young fighters on
the rise. Ball has never considered himself a "9-5er" and
doesnít plan on starting now. A win April 17 against one of
the sportís most recognized names would be a step in the
"I donít want to work a regular job. I want to put myself in
a position where I donít have to work, and boxing is my
outlet to do that," Ball said. "My goal is to win a world
title, and Iíve kept that mindset throughout the pandemic.
Iíve been waiting for an opportunity like this, and itís
finally here. Now I have to seize it."