WORCESTER — Kendrick Ball Jr. likes to fight as often as he can. After he turned pro in May of 2016, he fought six times over the next seven months.
But the 27-year-old super middleweight from Worcester will enter the ring on Friday night at the Palladium for the first time in 8½ months, the longest layoff of his pro career.
In Ball’s last fight, he scored a third-round TKO against Juan Celin Zapata (6-14-2) of the Bronx, New York, on June 14 to improve to 13-1-2 with 9 KOs, including 3-0 at the Palladium.
Shortly after the fight, Ball was diagnosed with sciatica from a pinched nerve in his back that caused pain from his back and down his left leg. He couldn’t work out for a couple of months.
“I’ve had it for a while,” Ball said, “but then it got really bad after the fight. So I couldn’t even run or anything.”
A chiropractor helped ease the pain with stretching and exercises so Ball has been able to train the last several months.
Ball (13-1-2, 9 KOs) saw his opponent change a few times, but he said during an open workout Tuesday night at Camp Get Right on Millbrook Street that he had signed earlier in the day to fight Ulises Jimenez (24-25-1) of Mexico City in a six-round bout. Jimenez has scored 16 KOs, but he’s been KO’d 17 times.
Ball will be one of five Worcester boxers fighting on the seven-bout CES Boxing show Friday night.
In the eight-round main event, lightweight Jamaine Ortiz (12-0, 6 KOs) will oppose Mexican Luis Ronaldo Castillo (22-5). Castillo has recorded 17 KOs, but he’s been KO’d five times. This will be Ortiz’s first pro fight in his hometown.
“I’m excited and feeling a little bit more pressure,” Ortiz said, “but I’m not letting it get to me.”
Featherweight Irvin Gonzalez (13-2, 10 KOs) is scheduled to fight Yeuri Andujar (5-2, 3 KOs) of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, for the vacant WBC Youth World Featherweight title. Andujar scored a unanimous decision over 8-0 Nathan Martinez at Foxwoods Casino on Dec. 7.
Super welterweight Eslih Owusu (2-0) will take on Maceo Crowder (2-4, 1 KO) of Boston and cruiserweight Jake Paradise (2-2, 2 KOs) is set to face Rogerio Dionizio (0-1) of Revere.
This will be CES Boxing’s first show in Worcester.
Ball has won his last four bouts, three by knockout, but he suffered his only loss after returning from his previous longest layoff. He lost a unanimous, six-round decision to Alexis Gayton in his first bout in sixth months. He’s determined to come back strong this time, however.
“I really just want to outdo everybody,” Ball said. “I still feel personally that I’m not getting the respect that I deserve from certain people. So my way of feeling is to go in there and get a big knockout and steal the show.”
“He’s going to make a statement,” said his father and trainer Kendrick Ball Sr.,
“because he feels that he should be the main event or co-main event on this show. We fought here in Worcester and we established a fan base here. We feel like we’re getting looked over, but, hey, it’s part of the game.”
Last month, Ball joined the Local 243 union and he’s working as a hard-hat laborer, helping build Polar Park.
“This fight, I feel really strong because of this new job,” Ball said. “I do a lot of lifting so I put on a lot of muscle. I feel strong so I’m excited about that.”
Paradise has won his last two fights by TKO after losing his first two by TKO.
“I ain’t showing you guys anything yet,” he said. “Wait until after this fight and we’ll talk. I have a heckuva lot more to show.”
Dionizio was knocked out in the first round at Union Station last September in his pro debut.
“He’s going to get knocked out again,” Paradise said.
In other bouts, super welterweight Jalen Renaud (4-0, 1 KO) of Springfield will battle Laured Stewart (3-0, 2 KOs) of Sydney, Australia, and flyweight Marisa Belenchia (1-0) of New Haven will oppose Shawna Ormsby (0-0), a native of Buffalo, New York.
The weigh in will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday at Lundgren Honda of Auburn at 163 Washington St. in Auburn and is open to the public.
Tickets range from $35 to $85 and are available at CESBoxing.com or by calling 401-724-2253. Preliminary bouts begin at 7 p.m with the main card streaming live at 9 p.m. on Fight Pass, which is available at UFCFightPass.com.
Worcester super featherweight Phillip Davis (2-2-1) will also fight on Friday, but in Hanover, Maryland, against Ebrima Jawara (3-1, 1 KO) of Germantown, Maryland.
Welterweight Frederick Lawson (28-2, 21 KOs), who has lived in Worcester the past three years while training at Camp Get Right, will take on Mikael Zewski (34-1, 23 K0s) of Trois-Riveres, Quebec, on March 28 in Quebec City for the IBF Intercontinental and NABF championships.
—Contact Bill Doyle at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BillDoyle15.