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Gary “Batman” Balletto III: “Buckle up everybody – we’re going to make history!”

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Photo: Gary “Batman” Balletto III looks to win his third title in as many fights on Saturday when he takes on undefeated power puncher Laurent Humes for the NABF Jr. Light Heavyweight title at Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino.

Gary “Batman” Balletto III (4-0, 2 KOs) fights for his third title in as many fights on Saturday, May 11th when he takes on undefeated power puncher Laurent Humes (10-0, 10 KOs) in an 8-round slugfest. The pair clash for the vacant NABF Jr. Light Heavyweight ChampionshipDoors open at 6PM
Event at 6:45PM
.

The bout serves as the co-feature for CES Boxing’s”The Brawl at Bally’s,” an electrifying 7-bout card taking place at Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino in Rhode Island.

Tickets for the event, priced at $60, $80, $155, and $180, are quickly selling out.  Purchase yours now at CESFights.com.  Info from Casino, HERE. Fans who can’t make it to Bally’s can catch the action on Swerve Combat TV on a tape delay basis.

For Balletto, winning titles is becoming customary.  The Cranston, RI native moved up a weight class in July 2023 to win the CES MMA World Middleweight title. ‘Batman’ followed up that feat with an impressive first round submission in February of this year to add the CES MMA World Welterweight hardware to his collection. That’s two world titles in two weight classes in consecutive fights.  

The wins etched him in the annals of combat sports history, where he joined his father, Gary “Tiger” Balletto, as a world champion.  

“My phone blew up of course with everybody excited for me and congratulating me,” says Balletto about his latest title victory.  “We spent the night at Foxwoods and grabbed a good dinner, but the next day was pretty much back to normal.”

Normal is a relative term for Balletto.  Just a few weeks after the win, ‘Batman’ was back to the drawing board, dreaming up ways to add to the family lore.

“It’s funny because these are things that are just spoken into existence, you know?” says Balletto of how this opportunity materialized.  “Like, ‘it would be cool to fight for a boxing title after winning this MMA title, right?’ and then the wheels start turning around me.  My dad, CES and Jimmy get together and make things happen.  I’m lucky for that.”

CES Boxing founder Jimmy Burchfield Sr. immediately got to work, lobbying WBC officials about Balletto competing for one of their affiliate organization belts.  Despite only having 4 pro boxing bouts, Burchfield argued that the pugilist known as ‘Batman’ was an experienced multi-discipline fighter with 12 MMA fights under his 2 championship belts.  

“CES brought the opportunity to me and said that they’re doing a card at Twin River and it’s got to be big,” recalls Balletto.  “They said that we could fight for a belt and I guess the WBC approved if it was against this opponent.  They asked if I was interested and I said yes”.     

Enter Laurent Humes, a 30-year-old boxer from Springfield, MA with a perfect record of 10-0 with 10 knockouts.  

“He’s 10-0 with 10 knockouts, but when I see that in boxing, I immediately roll my eyes,” says an unimpressed Balletto about his opponent’s impeccable record.  “I think ‘alright, well let’s see, who did he knock out?’  There’s nobody on his record that showed up to win.  They knew what they signed up for, they grabbed the payday, and they took their beating.”

Indeed, in boxing it’s common for even blue-chip prospects to be matched against limited opposition early in their careers as they transition into the pro ranks.  Ideally, the fights are meant to offer the boxer a new wrinkle to add to their arsenal without overwhelming them.    

In Humes, Balletto is facing a fighter who got a late start in boxing at 19 years old.  Despite the late start, the Springfield native was a quick study, winning two Golden Gloves titles in his brief amateur career before turning pro.  A closer look at his 10-0 (10 KOs) record indicates that, while he surely has power, most of his wins have come against nondescript opposition.  

“I found a video from maybe 6 months ago and I watched a few rounds of it to get an idea of how he blocks, how he moves and how he fights,” says Balletto.  “I’ve got somewhat of an idea, and that’s all I really need because you never know who’s gonna change what by the time they get to the next fight. Everybody’s always trying to improve, but I think I read people well and I adapt pretty well to who’s in front of me.”

Assessing Humes’ strengths, Balletto sees an athletic boxer who relies on movement and reflexes to set up knockouts.

“I think he’s a boxer with more of a Mayweather style,” states Balletto.  “He leaves that front arm down. He boxes and moves around, so I’m just gonna try to put the pressure on him and make it ugly.”

By ‘ugly,’ Balletto is likely referring to applying extreme pressure to force Humes to fight on the backfoot where ‘Batman’ can cut off the ring and leverage his advantages, which includes the ability to grapple and wear down his opponent on the inside.   

“I wanna try to make him work harder than he has to,” agrees Balletto.  “If I just lay on him a little bit, I can get him to expend some energy pushing me back.  If he burns himself out doing it, great.”

Balletto has found that the toughest part of getting ready for Humes is not so much the opponent he’s facing, but making the mental switch between combat sports.

“It’s always a challenge switching back and forth between boxing and MMA,” explains Balletto.  It’s a much different rhythm, and the timing and distance management are different too, so I’ve just been working on tightening things up to make sure I’m seeing the boxing openings and not the MMA ones.”

Expounding on this point, one can liken the difference between boxing and MMA to a person who may know a lot about one discipline (e.g., boxing) to one who may know a little about many disciplines (e.g., MMA).  In other words, boxing is a martial art that is incorporated into the MMA game alongside other disciplines.  Whereas boxers strive to perfect one style, most MMA fighters have a foundational discipline that they supplement with striking, grappling, jiu-jitsu, etc.  

“The main thing is trying to get into a mindset where you’re not depending on your other tools,” elaborates Balletto.  “In Boxing, you can only use your hands and to do that you have to be in a completely different position, literally, where you’re judging the distance you’re standing at, the angle you’re standing at, and the rhythm of the fight.  It’s very different.  You can’t use other threats to create space and to create openings, so it’s tuning in on being able to get to the right position to strike using only your hands.  It’s a much more simplified Game than MMA, but in a way, it’s much more complex at the one thing that it’s utilizing.”

Confident that he’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments to neutralize Humes’ strengths, Balletto is focused on continuing to take on the biggest challenges possible while carving a unique lane within combat sports.

“Every fight feels like the biggest fight, whether it is or it isn’t,” confesses the 29-year-old.  “It’s exciting.  I don’t know of anyone else who’s winning titles in both boxing and MMA simultaneously, especially in back-to-back fights like this, so it’s definitely a major accomplishment.”

Asked whether he’ll focus on boxing or defend his MMA titles if successful on Saturday, the ever whimsical ‘Batman’ gives a noncommittal reply.

“After this fight, we have a few things potentially in the works,” says Balletto.  “We’re hoping to hear back from the UFC about their upcoming Contender series.  We’re being considered, so that might be something that happens this year or who knows?  If I can pull this off, it might put me in position for a good Boxing match too.”

Regardless of the path (or paths) he chooses, one can be certain that Balletto will give it his all and leave the door open to the possibilities.

“Life is about balance: if we find it, we live it well,” says Balletto philosophically.  “It makes it a lot easier when you take the chance and accept the outcomes, no matter what it’s gonna be, and you just go for the ride.  So, buckle up everybody, because we’re trying to make history!”

Don’t miss the scintillating matchup between Gary Balletto III and Laurent Humes for the NABF Jr. Light Heavyweight Championship this Saturday, May 11, from Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino.  Purchase your tickets now at CESFights.com.   

For more information, follow CES Boxing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @CESBOXING

INFORMATION

CES Boxing is one of the top promotions on the East Coast.  Founded in 1992 by Jimmy Burchfield Sr., CES Boxing has promoted many world class fighters, including Jamaine Ortiz, Juiseppe Cusumano, Hank Lundy, Vinny Paz, Peter Manfredo, Mariusz Wach, Jason Estrada, Matt Godfrey, Chad Dawson and Ray Oliveira. CES Boxing has promoted such super fights as “The Thriller on Triller: Tyson v Jones Jr.”, “Mayweather vs. Gotti III” and “The Contender: Manfredo v Pemberton”.

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