The next month is going to be huge for boxing in Montreal and Quebec with at least four major cards scheduled and it starts this coming Saturday night with another fight show at The Tohu Theatre featuring the prospects from Grant Brothers Boxing and Rixa Promotions. It promises to be an action-packed and entertaining event with Golden Garcia (7-0), Dwayne Durel (5-0), Roody Pierre-Paul (12-3-1), and Jordan Balmir (2-0) all stepping into the ring to take the next step towards greater success and renown.
Also in action, legendary hockey enforcer Joël Thériault returns for his second pro bout. Last September the 6’4, 245 pound warrior scored a first round stoppage over an opponent who was completely out-matched physically. The organizers have worked to ensure this second bout is more competitive, setting 250 pound Jose Vazquez (4-3) as “The Animal’s” next opponent. Should be a fun fight between two big heavyweights.
Prospects Garcia and Durel could be in tough on Saturday. They are facing a pair of young, Mexican brothers with winning records who have reputations for always showing up and providing stiff opposition. 24-year-old Isidro Toala has a record of 11-4-1 and is set to test his less experienced opponent in what will be Durel’s second six round match. Maximino Toala is just 22-years-old but is 11-4 which again represents an edge in experience over the 7-0 Garcia. Their match is scheduled for eight rounds. The challenge for both “Diamond” Durel and “Golden” is to not just win, but to impress and demonstrate they are ready for bigger challenges.
Undefeated prospect Erik Bazinyan (14-0) had been slated to also perform on Saturday, but a recent training injury has temporarily sidelined him. Instead the main event features the ever popular Francis Lafreniere who is on a ten fight win streak and coming off an excellent 2016 campaign. The banner year for “The People’s Champ” started off with one of the best fights ever seen in Montreal’s Bell Centre as Francis and crosstown rival Renan St Juste gave fight fans an unforgettable ten round war. Lafreniere captured both a unanimous decision and the IBF International middleweight title. Every round was a scorcher as the two warriors went toe-to-toe from first bell to last, inspiring a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd which had gathered to see the rematch between Jean Pascal and Sergey Kovalev.
Lafreniere followed up that huge win with two more victories: a stoppage of Attila Koros in June at La Tohu, and a shutout decision win last month over Damian Mielewczyk at the Montreal Casino. Sources close to Francis indicate that Rixa Promotions is working to capitalize on their fighter’s recent success and gain an appearance for him on a major card happening next month, but first he must get past Mexico’s Manuel Garcia (15-12-2) which, given the fact the veteran has four wins in his last 14 outings, shouldn’t be too difficult a task.
But as Montreal fight fans know, it’s never a boring fight when Lafreniere is in action as he sets a frenetic pace and always looks to slug it out at close quarters. An impressive showing on Saturday should lead to major opportunities for the brave battler from Coteau-du-Lac and give local fight fans plenty to cheer about. Roody Pierre-Paul (12-3-1) and young prospects Jordan Balmir (2-0) and Whitney Baille (3-0) round out the card, and with the unique environment of La Tohu, a circular arena without a bad seat in the house, this is the first can’t-miss boxing event of the new year in Montreal. A year which should bring exciting opportunities for all of the fighters in the Grant Brothers Boxing and Rixa Promotions stable. — Robert Portis