KO’s For Francis And Shak

Another week, another boxing card at the Montreal Casino, this time from Groupe Yvon Michel. The week before saw Eye Of The Tiger put on a major show there featuring Mathieu Germain and Erik Bazinyan. This past Saturday the headliners were Shakeel Phinn and Francis Lafreniere, and the theme of the event was time efficiency as they, and some of the other competitors, fought like they had a car double-parked outside. Thus, fight fans got to enjoy eight match-ups and still go home early.

The event began with lightweight Alex Dilmaghani (18-1) who was boxing in Montreal for the first time in two years. His return to The City Of Saints was a happy one as he dispatched Cristian Arrazola (24-15-3) in the first round, scoring three knockdowns with some painful body blows. Check out the post-fight interview with Manny Montreal:

Next up was Ontario welterweight Kane Heron (12-0-1) who scored a one-punch bodyshot KO, also in the first round, against Carlos Lopez Marmolejo (9-5-1). Heron is scheduled to compete again in December on an upcoming Lee Baxter card. The next match actually made it out of the first round as cruiserweight Yan “Wild Thing” Pellerin (3-1) got the decision over Fidel Toscano (0-4), and then middleweight Tommy Houle also had to settle for a points win against Rafael Ortiz (3-2-1).

Toscano and Pellerin rumble.

Then it was back to first round knockouts as Jean Michel Bolivar (5-1) dispatched Adriel Juzaino (26-17-3) in a middleweight match, before welterweight Sebastian Bouchard upped his record to 17-1 with a second round KO of Carlos Gorham (16-6). Then it was time for the main attractions, Shakeel Phinn (19-2) and Francis Lafreniere (17-6-2).

Houle and Ortiz mix it up.

Phinn, aka “The Jamaican Juggernaut,” had been inactive since this past June with two major matches falling through for the young super middleweight. If he was hoping to make up for the resulting lack of activity with some lively rounds against Crispulo Javier Andino (20-12-1), his punching power made that impossible. Andino failed to survive the first three minutes as a flush left hook brought about knockdown number one, and than a pair of hard right hands put Andino down a second time. The referee waved off the fight and Phinn notched stoppage win number 17.

Now it was time for Francis Lafreniere’s comeback bout. The last time the proud fighter they call “The People’s Champ” was in action was back in March, when he lost his NABO middleweight title, and a close decision, to Albert Onolunose (23-2-1) in a ten round war. A scheduled rematch was postponed and then cancelled as Lafreniere took some time off to regroup and get married.

If Saturday’s bout is anything to go by, Francis has benefited from the respite. He looked sharp and powerful as he put Brazilian veteran Samir Barbosa (37-15-3) on the defensive and kept him there, eventually trapping him in the corner and landing a series of unanswered blows that prompted the referee to intervene. With Onolunose having suffered defeat to rising prospect Patrice Volny (12-0), word is a Lafreniere vs Volny duel could be in the works for early in 2019, a fight that will definitely sell tickets in Montreal. But in the meantime Francis is looking to stay busy; his next match is already slated for November 24, again at the Montreal Casino, an opponent yet to be determined.

Lafreniere celebrates a quick win.

But while a Lafreniere vs Volny bout is at the hypothetical stage at this point, Shakeel Phinn’s next scrap is, according to different sources, all but signed, sealed and delivered, and it’s a significant one. It was announced at Saturday’s show that Phinn will have a supporting role for the big Adonis Stevenson card scheduled for December 1st in Quebec City and his opponent will be undefeated prospect Dario Bredicean (17-0).

The older of the fighting Bredicean brothers is no stranger to Groupe Yvon Michel cards, but a showdown with Phinn is easily the most daunting match of his career thus far. It’s a high-stakes one too, as it will have serious repercussions for both young men. Shakeel is 27 and Dario is 25, and naturally both are now looking to take a major step forward; an impressive win either way would fit the bill. Here’s hoping we get something both highly competitive and highly exciting and the end result cries out for a rematch.

So, eight matches in the books, four of them decided in the opening round, and we look ahead to the next casino card from GYM, on November 24th, with Lafreniere, Houle, Bolivar and super lightweight Mazlum Akdeniz (6-0) all scheduled to compete.

— Robert Portis 

Photos by Ariane Théberge. 

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