One of the chief reasons Montreal is “The Fight City” is numbers, simple mathematics. Yeah, it’s a big metropolis, but even so, name another city with a population under two million that has as many fight gyms and fight shows. We’ll save you some time: you can’t.
Hardcore combat sports fans know the island of Montreal is the mecca, the place to which serious pugilists journey to train with experienced pros, where MMA fighters the world over come so they can set foot in the famous Tri Star Gym, where fledgling boxers take their pick from a plethora of legit dens of pugilistic pain, such as Donnybrook, Underdog, Champions and Hard Knox. But that’s just for starters. Then there’s Ambition, Boxe Montreal, Sherbatov, and the East Boxing Club. But we can’t forget Dax, the Blue Cat, Ludus, and the Verdun Boxing Club. Not to mention Angry Monkey, Combat Academy, Club de Boxe 35, and Gym 76. The list goes on and on. As we say, numbers.
(Which, by the way, is something of a problem for us. There’s just no way we can ever cover and do justice to all the fight action here. Montreal fight writers, bloggers and videographers, take note and drop us a line.)
While the pro scene of late, aside from cards at the Montreal Casino, has been a bit quiet with no major events at the Bell Centre, the fact remains around here a dedicated fight freak who keeps his or her ear to the ground can still take in a local fisticuffs show pretty much every week. Just as an example, another top notch gym, Grant Brothers Boxing in Dorval, operated by local legends Howard and Otis Grant, staged an amateur card just last month, as they do several times a year.
The show featured 13 bouts, ranging from kids entering the ring for the first time, to experienced combatants aiming to turn pro in the not-too-distant future, and the evening had a little bit of everything go down, with no shortage of excitement. We sent Kieron Yates out to cover it and he reported back with the details plus some of his excellent photos. Check it out:
The room was packed at Grant Brothers as the show kicked off with two exhibition matches to set the tone and warm up the crowd. The third match then saw Zach Spoon, fighting out of Grant Brothers, take on Zakaria Tamani. Spoon got off to a fast start and looked very sharp but near the end of the opening stanza a hook from Tamani did some damage to his right eye. Between rounds the referee judged the injury serious enough to halt the match, a painful outcome for Spoon who, up until that one big shot, appeared to be the better man on the night. Such is boxing.
Another notable bout saw William Bruce take on Mohamed Fethi Benhadji. Although Benhadji clobbered Bruce with a beautiful shot in the opening seconds, and would land several more nice punches before all was said and done, it was Bruce who really stood out in this contest. Quick and agile, Bruce used aggression and skill to pick apart Benhadji, who just couldn’t react quickly enough to his opponent’s onslaughts.
Interestingly enough, both Bruce and Tamani train out of the Ludus gym in St. Leonard and both show real promise and potential. Bruce eventually sent Benhadji to the canvas and bloodied his nose before the referee finally called the fight and raised Bruce’s hand. After that there was another entertaining scrap that saw Jean-Emmanuel Blaise (also from Ludus) batter and knock out Yaroslav Lovencho, but the better contests came, as they often do, after the intermission.
Tristar’s Colten Karamanoukian went to war with Tarek Khirat of Ambition, with Khirat earning a unanimous decision after three very intense rounds. Then Victor Sevounts and Amato Matumuanbirhi had themselves a real brawl, just a non-stop, all action war. Sevounts ultimately emerged the winner, but what a fight it was, and credit to both for holding nothing back. I wasn’t surprised to see Sevounts get the nod, but it was definitely a close and hard-fought struggle and Matumuanbirhi deserves kudos as well for his brave effort.
The penultimate bout of the night was also a highly competitive affair that could have gone either way as Mike D’Or edged out Theo Owusu for a split decision. Finally, Vladislav Cutijinschi met Roch Gagne for the final match of a very fun night of fights with the Grant Brother’s Cutijinschi getting the nod over Gagne of Ludus.
Both Cutijinschi and Gagne demonstrated intelligence and poise, not to mention some crafty foot work, and at the end of the festivities this match was declared “Fight of the Night,” while Victor Sevounts would take home the “Fighter of the Night” award.
Great crowd, plenty of terrific action, and some excellent performances. All-in-all, an outstanding show and it was a blast to cover it. Here are the official results:
Emmanuel Gomez vs Ivan Koval – exhibition
Dylan Kulibaba vs Karim Dandoub – exhibition
Zach Spoon vs Zakaria Tamani – Tamani, Ref Stoppage
Joseph Maghzal vs Alix Edzang – Edzang, Split Decision
Matthew Pietroniro vs Antonio Castrarlo – exhibition
William Bruce vs Mohamed Fethi Benhadji – Bruce, Ref Stoppage
Jean-Emmanuel Blaise vs Yaroslav Lovencho – Blaise, KO
Michael Zarlenga vs Siloh Rodriguez – Rodriguez, Unanimous Decision
Francis Nadeau vs Steve Tatagias – Tatagias, Unanimous Decision
Colten Karamanoukian vs Tarek Khirat – Khirat, Unanimous Decision
Victor Sevounts vs Amato Matumuanbirhi – Sevounts, Unanimous Decision
12. Theo Owusu vs Mike D’Or – D’Or, Split Decision
13. Vladislav Cutijinschi vs Roch Gagne – Cutijinschi, Unanimous Decision
Photos by Kieron Yates