NORWALK, Conn. – If it seemed Norwalk Common Council Minority Leader Travis Simms (D-District B) had been quiet lately, it may have been because he was in training for a comeback in the ring.
The former World Boxing Association junior middleweight champ stepped back into the ring for real for the first time in five years on Saturday night and came away with his 28th win in 29 fights. Simms, who turned 43 on May 1, won a unanimous six-round decision over Jess Noriega, 31, of Lynchburg, Va., in a light heavyweight battle in Columbia, S.C.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling congratulated Simms at Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting.
“Travis has brought a lot of recognition to the city of Norwalk with his prowess in the ring, as did his brother (Tarvis),” Rilling said. “He is one of the top athletes to come out of the city of Norwalk. I just want to congratulate him.”
While Simms was nearly 800 miles from home, he was not alone, as several Norwalkers headed for the Palmetto State capital to see the former champ’s comeback.
“Having to see a lot of the support coming down from Norwalk was a big thrill,” Simms said. “I was totally surprised and unaware. It just shows that when you do great things, people will support you. I would like to thank all of the residents who did come out to South Carolina to support me and also all the people back here.”
Simms, whose only loss came in a title fight in July 2007 in Bridgeport against unbeaten Joachim Alcine (28-0), told the Council and Rilling he may have another fight soon, and that he’d like to get another title shot.
“There have been discussions about it,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll have a title shot by December. Keeping my fingers crossed, trying to stay in shape. I’m thinking of entering the ring again in Brooklyn, N.Y., sometime in August or September.”
While it had been five years, almost to the day, since his last fight, it was his third straight win – all in Columbia. He stopped Marcus Luck in the third round of a scheduled eight-round fight on June 20, 2009, and took a six-round decision over Mike McFail in August 2008.
His opponent, Noriega, who fights regularly at 174 pounds – Simms fought at 154 in his heyday – brought a deceptive 2-9 record into the bout. At 31 years old, all 11 pro fights had been in the past two years. His two wins came by knockout, and he had been stopped just twice in his nine losses. Making that even more impressive, his opponents going into his bout with Simms had a combined record of 50 wins, 26 losses and five draws, and 22 of those losses and three of the draws belonged to his very first opponent, John Michael Terry, who he beat in a four-rounder May 4, 2012. Since then, his opponents were a combined 44-4-2.
Noriega had lost four straight fights, the last two in November and December at casinos in Delaware and Atlantic City.
Simms beat Alejandro Garcia (22-0) with a fifth-round knockout for the WBA junior middleweight title on Dec. 13, 2003, in Atlantic City, then defended his belt against Bronco McKart (47-5) on Oct. 2, 2004 in a 12-round decision. Boxing politics intervened and Simms did not fight again until Jan. 6, 2007, when he stopped Jose Antonio Rivera (38-4-1) in the ninth round to regain his title.
Simms lost his title six months later in Bridgeport, the only time in his pro career he was unsuccessful.