Furious Fisticuffs at Grant Brothers Pro-Am Event

You’re a boxing manager with a not uncommon problem: you have a talented and capable pugilist under contract, but no one wants to see him compete due to his having a unique gift for turning paying customers into victims of chronic fatigue syndrome. Sure he wins fights, but only after slowing the pace of a match to a crawl, his defensive talent and penchant for throwing a handful of pitty-pat punches per round making those assembled wonder if they’re watching a boxing match or some kind of experimental dance exhibition.

But fear not, we have the cure for your woes. It’s simple: just send your timid, safety-first boxer to Montreal. We’ll straighten him out in no time.

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Back in March we reported on the last Grant Brothers Boxing event and noted how every bout that night was an entertaining affair and the card was filled with slugfests galore. Well, last night saw the latest show from Grant Brothers and Rixa Promotions and, amazingly, the ante was upped in terms of sheer action and excitement.

Despite the disappointment of Erik Bazinyan’s scheduled contest having to be cancelled, boxing fans had plenty to cheer about last night at the Holiday Inn in Pointe-Claire on the island of fight-mad Montreal. Virtually every match featured bruising, toe-to-toe action. Plus, local fans could not have been happier with the results of the professional matches as all of the local heroes triumphed over their respective opponents.

Ayoubi and Ercolano trade bombs.

The tone was set right from the very first match in the amateur section of the card where every bout was action packed. First up, Medwin Enriquez clashed with Antoine St Hilaire in a lightweight contest and from the opening bell it was bombs away. Three rounds of slugging followed with both men taking and landing big shots and the judges awarding Enriquez a points win.

A pair of 100 lb. youngsters followed with Avery Martin Duval and Loukeins Mallette boxing to a draw in a tactical but fast-paced bout. Then it was time for an absolute war between light-heavyweights Adam Ayoubi and Kevin Ercolano. This was a total slugfest from start to finish with both young men furiously trading bombs all the way and Ayoubi managing to secure a close points win. No doubt we speak for all assembled when we say, “Rematch, please!”

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DiBella impressed.

Finally, Jonathan DiBella put on an impressive display of skill and speed as he dominated tough Aaron Montelongo in a lively lightweight scrap. Kudos to Montelongo for eating a ton of punches and never giving up and also managing to land a few good shots of his own, but Di Bella was just too sharp and too quick.

Following a short intermission the professional bouts began with each match showcasing one of Montreal’s most exciting young prospects or contenders. And, as previously mentioned, every fight was a scorcher.

First up: Golden Garcia, who was extended in his fourth pro bout by Toronto’s tough Abdula Teymouri. Teymouri started fast, giving Garcia plenty to think about in a busy opening round, but soon enough the Montrealer’s power asserted itself. Teymouri was game but outgunned and frequently on the defensive and the unanimous decision went to Garcia. Now 4-0, Golden commented afterwards that Teymouri is “one tough son-of-a-bitch.”

Teymouri (left) and Garcia mix it up.

Next, undefeated welterweight Flavius Biea, a past European amateur champion and currently the Romanian welterweight champ. In his first bout in North America, Biea looked to impress against tough Arnaud Dimidschtein of Belgium. After six bruising rounds, Biea’s advantages in quickness, timing and power earned him a unanimous decision win.

Super-welterweight Custio Clayton next entered the ring to make quick work of Zaurs Sadihovs, dropping the Latvian three times in the opening round with a sledgehammer right hand that seemingly could not miss. Clayton, a former amateur champion and leader of the Canadian National Team, is now 4-0 and already a step up in opposition appears in order.

Beia gets some last second instructions from Howard Grant.
Flavius Biea listens to trainer Howard Grant.

It was now time for the main event and the crowd, in a great mood thanks to all the lively action, greeted popular Francis Lafreniere with a rousing ovation. His opponent, Mexico’s Salomon Rodriguez, had eight knockouts in eight wins so this was potentially a risky match, but at the opening bell Lafreniere displayed no concerns whatsoever as he marched directly to Rodriguez and initiated a toe-to-toe slugfest. Rodriguez obliged and the war was on.

For eight rounds there was no let-up. It was a non-stop, all-action war of attrition with both men exchanging power punches and heavy body shots. Lafreniere’s higher work rate and better hand speed was the difference, but otherwise little separated the two men as they happily meted out and absorbed punishment. Overall the cleaner blows were landed by the hometown hero and the crowd celebrated as he received the unanimous decision and notched his ninth win. It had been a grueling war and the two battlers exchanged numerous gestures of mutual respect. The fans paid tribute to Rodriguez with loud applause.

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Lafreniere and Salomon trade bombs.

Following the announcement of the decision, former world titlist Renan St-Juste stepped through the ropes to interrupt Lafreniere’s in-ring interview with MC Malik Shaheed and publicly challenge the victor to a showdown. “I have great respect for Renan,” responded Francis. “Let’s not kid ourselves: he has an impressive record and is globally ranked. I look forward to a future match with him.”

A St-Juste vs Lafreniere fight in Montreal would definitely make the turnstiles sing, though likely, as Lafreniere hinted, a bit more seasoning is in order before Francis takes on such an experienced adversary.

Fittingly, the main event was a no-holds-barred war.

In the end, Grant Brothers Boxing put on yet another great event, one which should help bring out even more ticket buyers for the next card, as everyone in Montreal must now know: Grant Brothers plus Rixa Promotions means excitement. Whether it’s something they put in the water bottles or just that special je ne sais quoi one finds in the great fight city of Montreal — birthplace of Arturo Gatti and the site of such legendary slugfests as Archie Moore vs Yvon Durelle and Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran — who can tell? But fans of serious boxing action and no-holds-barred slugfests take note: in Montreal, it’s all action, all the way.         — Robert Portis

Photos by Manny Montreal (@MannyMtl)

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