MILL CREEK – There were some very good reasons for Vili Bloomfield to let pass the opportunity for a pro boxing career.
He had a good job working for a demolition company. He had a good wage with good benefits, which was important because the 24-year-old Everett man also has a baby on the way.
So why did Bloomfield, a 2000 graduate of Everett High School, give it all up?
Because he also had a dream.
”This was just something I had to do,” Bloomfield said. ”If I didn’t at least turn pro and give it a chance, it would have eaten me up. If I fail, then I fail. But I feel I have the talent to do something with it, so now I just need to see where boxing takes me.”
One bout into his new career, the outlook is promising. Bloomfield, a heavyweight of Tongan descent, made his debut earlier this month at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, where he stopped a foe named Shawn Kocab late in the first round. Kocab left with a broken nose and a ruptured right eardrum, and Bloomfield came away with a new nickname – he is ”The Tongan Warrior” – and the approval of a boisterous ringside crowd.
”Vili is normally a soft-spoken, quiet guy,” said Bill McDonald of Everett, who teams with Bret Summers to train and manage Bloomfield. ”But once the bell rang that night, he became a tiger. And as soon as he won the fight he was playing to the crowd, pounding his chest. Bret and I were looking at him thinking, ‘Who is this guy?’
”The crowd loved it and that made the promoter call me back later and say, ‘Hey, we loved having Vili here.’ After a period of time he becomes a commodity and once that happens you can start making some serious dollars, especially in the heavyweight division.
”We think,” he added, ”we have a really good product with Vili. We think he’s somebody people are going to want to see.”
Bloomfield started boxing when he was 6 at the South Everett Youth Center and went on to compile a fine 75-15 record as an amateur. He drifted away from boxing about 18 months ago, but then got the itch to try again as a pro.
”Money is obviously a big thing,” he said. ”Boxing is fun, but it also has to pay the bills.”
Aside from the dollars, there is a big difference between amateur and professional boxing. The bouts are longer – eight or 10 rounds, say, compared to a three-round amateur match – and the boxers do not wear protective headgear. Also, the gloves are lighter and less padded, meaning punches can be delivered with decidedly more impact.
Some top amateurs have trouble making the transition to pro bouts, but Bloomfield says he had no difficulty in his debut.
”I was a little nervous,” he admitted. ”But as soon as I got in the ring, everything went away. Almost as soon as the bell rang, it was more of a comfortable feeling. It felt good, comfortable.”
Bloomfield, who weighs about 210 pounds (making him a relatively light heavyweight), pocketed $800 for his first pro fight and his earnings will probably stay in that range for a time. The idea, McDonald explained, is to get Bloomfield several local bouts in the first year or so, building both his reputation and his record. In time, and if the wins continue, those purses could climb into the $5,000-$10,000 range.
”It’s a matter of him getting the rounds and the experience of the pros,” McDonald said. ”Before a guy ever becomes a contender, he’s got to fight through the underbelly of those tough, tough fringe contenders and wanna-bes that have strong chins and can go the distance. There’s a lot of good fighters there and you have to get through them.”
”We’re not in a position to bargain yet,” said Summers, himself a onetime top amateur and professional fighter. ”But if he gets a couple of wins under his belt, then we can bargain. We can start building him up and getting him a little more money.”
For now, Bloomfield is content to take his new career one step at a time.
McDonald and Summers ”call the shots,” he said. ”When they say, ‘Let’s fight,’ I’ll be ready to go. It’s just a matter of me staying focused, and doing what I can to get in shape and stay in shape. I just want to take boxing wherever I can take it.”