Big Cats At The Casino, Part Two

Not one, but two, major fight cards went down at the Montreal Casino in recent days as Eye Of The Tiger Management showcased some of the big cats in their burgeoning stable and of course your preferred independent boxing site had correspondents on hand for all the action. On Thursday, Batyr Jukembayev, Steven Butler and Kim Clavel were the headliners, and now here’s Jamie Rebner’s report on the Saturday afternoon card which featured, among others, Mathieu Germain and Arslanbek Makhmudov.

Makhmudov takes another step towards heavyweight domination.

Fight of the Night
Sebastien Roy, from Thetford Mines, Quebec, and Larone Whyte, from Mississauga, Ontario, put on an excellent welterweight scrap over six rounds. Roy improved to 8-0 with the decision win but it was far from easy. Whyte came to win and showed it every round by working tirelessly to get inside, eating several potent uppercuts along the way. When Whyte managed to close the distance, he worked Roy’s body well and landed compact hooks.

But Roy boxed well early on, keeping the distance and landing consistent offense, which forced Whyte to think and react. Things changed in the fifth when Whyte hurt Roy and he went for broke with power punches. Unable to score a knockdown, he tired and allowed Roy to survive. In the final round, it was Roy who returned the favor and hurt Whyte with an uppercut that had him on wobbly legs. Whyte, showing his heart and determination, stayed in the fight and continued to exchange in the pocket until the final bell.

Roy and Whyte gave the Montreal fans a great show.

Roy was rightfully awarded the decision in what was a great performance by both men. Roy showed the ability to survive rocky moments without losing his composure while regrouping to regain control of the fight.

Gusty Effort Of The Night: Larone Whyte 
The Ontarian showed a superb chin and major intestinal fortitude to walk through the shots he did from Roy and continue to press the action. He gave as good as he got in this one, hurting Roy in the fifth and surviving his own scare in the final round. Whyte has nothing to be ashamed of and promoters should be happy to include him on future cards.

Fans look forward to seeing more of Whyte.

Performance of the Night: Arslanbek Makhmudov 
In the main event, Arslanbek “The Lion” Makhmudov improved to 9-0 with nine KOs with a third-round stoppage of Julian Fernandez of Mexico to claim the NABF heavyweight belt. Fernandez gave a solid account of himself despite being the substitute opponent after Tshibuabua Kalonga was kept off the card due to visa issues.

As intimidating a heavyweight as exists today, Makhmudov, 6’5″ and 260 pounds, came out stalking and hunting for a finish. Due to the suffocating pressure, Fernandez retreated and circled and it wasn’t long before “The Lion” landed some big shots. Fernandez took them surprisingly well and even managed to avoid some big rights later in the round. Just getting out of round one was an accomplishment, something that six of Makhmudov’s previous eight opponents failed to do.

Makhmudov, aka “The Lion,” appears on his way to the top of the mountain.

Fernandez continued to show a great chin to absorb bombs from the Russian heavyweight and stay on his feet. However, he landed sporadically and none of his punches had any effect on Makhmudov. With no worry about what was coming back at him, Arslanbek continued to march forward, corner Fernandez and unload.  Makhmudov landed a stiff left hand in the third that hurt Fernandez and he followed it with unrelenting power punches until the referee stepped in and waved the bout off without a count.

It was a great performance from the colossal heavyweight though Fernandez’s gutsy effort must also be credited as he took many hard shots and was never knocked down. Makhmudov still has room to grow, as a more consistent jab would have helped him cut off the ring, instead of just relying on his immense size and high guard. A left lead would also help line up his powerful right, which wasn’t always accurate. A committed body attack would also create more openings for the big right.

“The Lion” is ferocious.

Knockout Of The Night: Lexson Mathieu
Super middleweight Lexson “The Next” Mathieu of Quebec City scored by far the most devastating knockout of the night, with one swooping left hand that sent his Mexican opponent, Juan Perez, crashing to the floor, his head violently rebounding off the canvas. Mathieu glared at his fallen opponent with a look of disdain and an air of superiority in his body language, not unlike a prime Chris Eubank Sr. Knowing it was over, the referee waved it off without a count. Although going rounds is an important part of a prospect’s development, a vicious first-round knockout does infinitely more for a young boxer’s reputation. This highlight adds to Mathieu’s impressive reel and it makes him that much more of a can’t-miss attraction.

Lexson Mathieu looks like a star in the making.

Surprise Of The Night: Uriel Perez TKO5 Mathieu Germain
Mathieu Germain brought an undefeated record into the ring but left with his first loss in a major upset. Uriel Perez of Mexico imposed his greater size, strength, and power on the local favorite by constantly walking his man down. While Germain showed impressive hand speed and footwork to box Perez in the early going, he ultimately couldn’t deal with the pressure and he didn’t have enough pop in his punches to discourage his foe.

Knockout of the night.

In the fourth round, Perez hurt Germain on two occasions and had him in bad shape, though the Montrealer was able to make it out of the round. However, things only got worse for Germain as he was knocked down in the sixth and barely beat the count. Rightfully sensing Germain was unfit to continue, the ref stopped the contest, awarding Perez the victory and silencing the partisan crowd. It was a tough night for Germain, who was physically outmatched and who now needs to recover and rebuild.

Germain (left) was surprised by Perez.

Prospect To Watch: Artur Ziyatdinov
Mathieu seems like the obvious choice here, but I prefer Ziyatdinov (11-0) because of the quality of his opponent. Facing the most notable name of his career in tough journeyman Darnell Boone, Ziyatdinov showed tremendous ability but also areas to improve. Thus, this fight was a valuable step forward in his progression.

Boone (24-25-5), known to the Montreal faithful for his battles with Adonis Stevenson and Jean Pascal, put forth a valiant effort and provided a tough test for the Russian upstart, just as he has for so many in the past including Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev, Curtis Stevens, and Edwin Rodriguez to name a few.

Ziyatdinov tags Boone.

Ziyadtinov scored a knockdown in round two and it appeared he might be able to end his night early, but the match soon turned into a grueling battle. Although Boone wasn’t active enough with his hands to win many rounds, he countered Ziyatdinov well, catching his taller opponent with flush hooks as well as many looping shots in the clinch. Boone also attacked the body well when he was able to pressure and force Ziyadtinov to retreat.

After slowing down in the middle rounds, Ziyadtinov woke up in the seventh when he landed a right that stunned Boone and forced him to the defensive but the savvy veteran showed the wherewithal to hear the final bell. At the end of the contest, Ziyatdinov was awarded the unanimous decision, the second time in his career he has gone eight rounds. He showed effective combinations but also defensive lapses when he gave up his reach advantage and got nailed in the process. But given that Ziyatdinov is only 23 and has a wealth of amateur experience, he has a very bright future ahead of him if he can continue to develop his skills.          — Jamie Rebner 

Photos by Vincent Ethier. 

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