[Interview by Pattee Mak] – Middleweight Kendrick “Pepper” Ball, Jr. (3-0-1, 3 Kos) from Worcester, Massachusetts is scheduled to fight his 5th professional fight on the upcoming CES undercard of another known Worcester fighter, Khiary Gray (13-1-0 10 Kos) while he defends his Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) junior middleweight belt against Chris Last-Chapter Chatman (14-5-1, 5 Kos) at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on October 21, 2016. Ball is 24 years old and is currently being trained by his father, Kendrick Ball out of Camp Get Rite in Worcester, Massachusetts. His pro debut was on May 13, 2016 against another pro debut Babatunde Odumosu. Ball was victorious by KO.
Pattee Mak: I remember seeing you in the amateurs and now you’ll be going into your 5th professional fight. You don’t have an opponent as of yet. Does this at all concern you while you are preparing for this fight not knowing if you’ll fight a southpaw or a boxer or a brawler?
Ball: When that happens I try not to really think too much about it because I train every day and spar all the time with pros and different styles and in the amateurs I fought the best guys around like my last amateur fight I lost a close split decision to the Olympic alternate so I have the experience as long as I listen to my dad I have nothing to worry about.
Pattee Mak: I’ve heard your Dad in your corner and he definitely gives great direction.
Pattee Mak: Since your dad currently is your trainer. Do you think that he is harder on you because he wants you to succeed more because you are his son?
Ball: Yea at times I do but I know it's only because he wants me to be at my best and I know and he knows at my best I can make things happen in the pros.
Pattee Mak: Besides Wilson, your other 3 opponent’s record totaled 0 wins and 1 loss. Are you hoping to fight someone in this next fight who has a few fights under his belt?
Ball: I'm definitely hoping to fight someone with a few under their belt. Wilson was 5-0 and I was 2-0 just coming off my 2nd win a week before and it was a tough fight but I thought I won the fight and so after that we knew we couldn't take any step backs.
Pattee Mak: It appears that your toughest fight to date was against David Wilson (5-0-0) back on July 22, 2016. The judges declared the bout a majority draw and scored the bout 39-37 for Wilson and 38-38 and 38-38. What did you learn from that fight?
Ball: I learned when you are in your guy’s home town you gotta give everything you got no holding back.
Pattee Mak: What would have you done differently?
Ball: I would have put a few more punches together on the combinations I threw and just kept a little more pressure.
Pattee Mak: How would you evaluate your performance against Wilson?
Ball: Um I'm not really sure like I said I had fought a week before so that had a little effect on me I thought I won the fight. I was in his home town and he was the favorite and I got a draw so I guess that speaks for itself. You would have to ask my father/trainer how he would rate my performance.
Pattee Mak: Every time you walk to the ring, there is someone holding a sign with your hometown on it "Worcester". What does that mean to you?
Ball: It means a lot because Worcester has Edwin Rodriguez (28-2-0, 19 kos) and Jose Rivera (41-6-1, 24 kos) 3x world champion that made Worcester standout for the pros and I wanna have the same affect has they did or better. So the sign is just letting everyone know where I'm from and I'm here to put my city on the map.
Pattee Mak: You mentioned Rodriguez and Rivera are also from Worcester. When are we going to see a fight held in Worcester? I’m sure your fans have been asking you the same question.
Ball: We have a lot of talented guys coming up now and I'm not really sure when there will be a show in Worcester. Me being signed to CES now it's all in my promoter Jimmy Burchfield’s hands to make that happen. A lot of people have been asking for a Worcester show but that's not up to me.
Pattee Mak: I for one would love to see a show in Worcester. Like you said there’s a ton of talented guys from your area now.
Pattee Mak: Since your 1st fight against Odumosu what changes have your couches done from transitioning you from your pro debut up until now?
Ball: The changes we made was being busy as soon as the bell rings throwing my jab, keeping my distance and being explosive with combinations.
Pattee Mak: You usually are the taller of the two fighters in the ring. Do you usually like to fight opponents that are shorter than you?
Ball: I’d say shorter guys lol because majority of the guys I fight are shorter than me I'm 6'2 so most guys are gonna be short especially at my weight.
Pattee Mak: Your ring name “Pepper”? Why Pepper and where did it originate?
Ball: Pepper was a name my family called me since I was a baby, then friends started calling me Pepper and it stuck so everyone starting calling me it. But it wasn't supposed to be my ring name my dad and Khiary [Gray] told the guys at CES to call me it. I had no idea my pro debut when they announced it I turned and looked at Khiary [Gray] and he started laughing lol.
Pattee Mak: LOL You know that is funny.
Pattee Mak: Besides boxing, training, sparring and all that other stuff. What is it that you do in your spare time?
Ball: Well I work a full time job as a record specialist filing medical records I really don't do too much. I'm in the gym seven days a week. I'm there most of the time but if I do happen to catch some free time I like shopping.
Pattee Mak: One last question goes out to his father and trainer Kendrick Ball. What does it mean to be training your son and working his corners during a fight?
Kendrick Ball (Father): This was a Goal that he set as a young kid to become a pro fighter. I was very excited because this was my goal I set when he was born. Boxing in my blood so I was told. I was pushing him to box and people didn't think he really wanted to. So I moved him slow in the amateurs. Made sure he had the best sparring in the gym, so when he did fight he would be comfortable. He didn't have a lot of amateur fights but he won things that let me know he was ready. He had a pro style from sparring hundreds of rounds with Edwin Rodriguez, one of his idols. Far as working his corner he's my son, I would never ever put him in a bad position and that goes for any of my fighters. I'm blessed to be alive to witness all these years of him in the gym and now seeing the reward.
Ball's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ken.perkins.7737?fref=ts
Other bouts of the evening:
RAY OLIVEIRAJR. VS. GERALD SCHIFONE
IRVIN GONZALEZ VS. CZDO HOFF
CRISTOBAL MARRERO VS. BRUNO DIAS
JAMAINE ORTIZ VS. MARQUE BATES
JONATHAN FIGUEROA VS. IRVIN VELOZ
JOSE RIVERA, ANTHONY MARSELLA JR.
ARE ALSO ON THE CARD.
(The above bouts are subject to change)
(Above family photo provided by Kenrick Ball).