For the past month the Casino de Montreal has staged a special promotion, offering patrons “big top flair” and a “circus vibe,” complete with acrobats and performers from the famous “Cirque du Soleil” show. Perhaps inspired by the exuberance and offbeat atmosphere, Groupe Yvon Michel has decided to offer something different in the latest edition of their casino boxing series. As they say, “variety is the spice of life” so who wouldn’t welcome something a little offbeat and unusual? Then again, some might caution “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Relax, Montreal fight fans; no one is trying to reinvent the wheel here as the same winning formula still applies: entertaining events that give talented, young prospects the chance to gain experience and develop their skills. Familiar faces abound, including Shakeel Phinn (11-1), Bruno Bredicean (6-0) and Patrice Volny (4-0); all have performed in recent editions of the casino series.
But a few things are new and different this time. For starters, tonight will be the professional debut of Groupe Yvon Michel’s newest acquisition, outstanding amateur champion Christian M’Billi. The Cameroon native represented France in various international tournaments, including the Rio Olympics where he was defeated in a furious battle with the eventual gold medal winner in his weight class. He is widely viewed as an outstanding prospect in the super middleweight division and tonight we have the chance to see him take the first step on his journey as a professional prizefighter.
What’s also new for this event is that for the first time a mixed martial arts fight is a scheduled bout on a casino boxing card. Yoni Sherbatov, who we have seen in the recent past boxing at the casino, will instead show off his jujitsu skills when he battles Martin (Tarzan) Sandoval (9-7-1) of the U.S.
But if that’s not new and different enough for you, how about this. For the first time in the history of Groupe Yvon Michel boxing events, a women’s fight is the main event. The charismatic Marie-Eve Dicaire (6-0) of Terrebonne faces Lisa Noel Garland (15-6) of South Carolina. It’s a match of significant implications as Garland is ranked sixth by the WBC while Dicaire is on the cusp of breaking into the top ten. A win for Dicaire guarantees major opportunities in the near future.
Also of particular interest is Volny’s match against Louisbert Altidor (5-0). Rare it is to see two undefeated prospects clash in the early stages of their careers. Both are coming to win and either man figures to be a serious test for the other. On paper at least, it’s a pick-em middleweight fight between two hungry prospects that could make for some high-stakes drama.
It’s all happening tonight at the Casino de Montreal with a few tickets still available. Check out the weigh-in video from Manny Montreal. — Robert Portis