LEWISTON — Jose Angel Ortiz came to fight this time, as promised.

The evidence was visible Saturday night in the abrasions under Steven Gamache’s eyes, the welts on his forehead, and the impingement in a left shoulder that the hometown hero could barely lift while he shook hands and posed for post-fight selfies with friends and fans.

Gamache, 31, also wore a winner’s smile, however, courtesy of a unanimous decision. The victory before 500 fans in the gymnasium at his alma mater, Lewiston High School, was his sixth without a defeat as a professional boxer.

The two middleweights squared off in Brooklyn, N.Y., three years ago, with Gamache pounding out a relatively dull decision on the cards. Ortiz (4-14-1) approached Gamache’s trainer, Glenn Cugno, and boasted that he would be in better shape if granted a rematch.

“I’m glad he showed up this time,” Gamache said. “Last time he just kind of stood there in a defensive stance.”

Gamache won the four-round encore by scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37.


It was a donnybrook, no doubt, particularly the third and fourth rounds, during which both fighters flailed away and landed consistently.

The second-generation crowd favorite built his lead before that, despite Ortiz’s attempts to feign otherwise with exaggerated mugging, shrugging and smirking as Gamache’s shots found their target.

“Usually that means you hit them pretty good when the do that,” Gamache quipped.

Gamache wrenched his left shoulder during the second round, aggravating an injury that developed in training camp.

“It happened in sparring,” he said. “It just meant I had to be more active with my right hand.”

Activity is a key on many fronts for Gamache, who was fighting for only the second time in front of his hometown fans. He pounded out a decision over Damon Antoine at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in October.


That was his first fight in more than two years.

“And really I was away from the sport eight years before I came back. I gained a lot of weight,” Gamache said. “Glenn plans to promote another card in August, and I hope to fight again on that. It’s fun fighting in front of all the young kids coming up. I know I have a lot to live up to. I’ll never be half as entertaining as my dad was.”

Steven is the son of two-time world champion Joey Gamache, who made his mark on similar, small cards in the city in the late 1980s.

In all, eight entertaining bouts lured the paying customers. It was more than enough to make the case that boxing, its proud history in the city being celebrated this week, is alive and well going forward.

The crowd lived vicariously through ample fistic bang for its admission buck, but longtime trainer Joe Gamache Sr. — Steven’s grandfather — was miffed by circumstances that forced promoter Cugno to cut the card nearly in half.

An entire stable of fighters from Massachusetts failed to appear for the fights, forcing three local amateur favorites to sit out the evening’s festivities.


Teenage brothers Isaac and Gabe Escobar of Lewiston and Robert Hetherman of Harpswell were all dressed up with no reason to go into the ring.

“We’re losing four of our main fighters,” Gamache Sr. said. “With two pro fights, that’s still a good card. But we needed the Escobars on it. Their mother is here, a nervous wreck, but you know she loves to watch their fight. They bring an entire family.”

The opening bell was delayed almost an hour to 7:55 p.m., in hopes that the fighters simply were lost in transit. In the end, however, they were a no-call, no-show.

And perhaps most importantly, no punishment, which irks Gamache.

“We’re trying to bring it back. We’ve got some great prospects,” he said. “When these guys don’t show up to fight, USA Boxing has to do something. It hurts our show. These kids should be suspended for six months. If not them, their coaches.”

The fights were scheduled to coincide with Monday’s 50th anniversary of Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston’s second heavyweight championship fight, held about 500 feet away as the crow flies at the Colisee.


Cugno, himself, fought out of the Gamache gym in a 30-year retrospective at the hockey arena with Ali in attendance in September 1995.

“Glenn is one of the nicest people. You have fights made and people don’t show up, there’s nothing you can do,” Gamache Sr. said.

“The whole thing is, we’re counting on them. The crowd’s not bad. Glenn’s downstairs saying, ‘What do we do?’ What can you do? He said they won’t come back for the next show. I disagree with that, if we put on a good show tonight.”

Boxing is a more closely regulated entity than it was in 1965, or even when Gamache was promoting fights for Joey, his son.

“Years ago, you would into the crowd and say, ‘You want to fight?’” Gamache Sr. recalled. “He would say, ‘No.’ You would say ‘I’ve got 50 bucks,’ and he would say, ‘Who do you want me to fight?’”

Casey Kramlich of Portland Boxing Club improved to 2-0 as a pro with a first-round knockout of Marcos Torres.

Bath fighters Tyler Durkee and Mike Alvarez were amateur winners along with Julian Baptiste, Bryan Santiago and Jacklyn Roman of Massachusetts and Ben Koch of Vermont.


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