The Montreal Casino’s Cabaret Room was awash in dark tones last night. The violet, blue, and fuchsia pouring from the stage lights were offset by a constellation of flickering white on both wall panels parallel to the ring. All of this contributed to a heavy atmosphere, one that would be familiar to anyone who’s been entertained in a casino side room. It’s an aesthetic of mist, glitz, and abrasive pomp that heightens and blunts the senses, increasing one’s sensitivity to spectacle as it inures the viewer from the dull imposition of reality.
The boxing card organized by Groupe Yvon Michel showcased several local fighters and culminated in a main event featuring welterweight Custio Clayton. On the undercard, Patrice Volny emerged the stronger man in a feisty scrap with Granby’s Charles Hauver as he bludgeoned then knocked down Hauver in a dramatic fourth round. Terrabonne’s Marie Eve Dicaire outpointed Ashleigh Curry, and Frank Cotroni earned a majority decision win over the flabby, leather-countenanced Pablo Munguia, who showed extraordinary mettle by marching forward despite a disadvantage in size and Cotroni’s repeated assaults.
In other action, Canadian super middleweight champion Shakeel Phinn earned a unanimous decision victory over Jaudiel Zepeda, a native of Sinaloa, Mexico who has lost more than he’s won as a professional, but fought with a gusto typical of his heritage. Possessing neither great skill nor pop, Zepeda struggled bravely against a sharper opponent whose skills and athleticism outmatched his. While Phinn won the fight outright, controlling most of its pace as he landed clean power shots, the bout wasn’t without trying moments.
In the main event, Custio Clayton whipped Jose Emilio Perea on his way to a tenth round stoppage. At no point was Clayton pressured by an opponent far less physically gifted than he. “He had no snap on his punches,” said Clayton afterwards. “After seeing the cuts and hurting him to the body I knew I was going to break him in the later rounds.”
Indeed, he did. The match was an exercise in brutality, as Clayton threw a variety of shots, stinging Perea up the middle with uppercuts, landing his left hook flush to the side of the Mexican’s head, and battering Perea’s body and face with furious three and four punch barrages that climaxed in blows to the liver. The bout’s three knockdowns were the result of combinations that mugged Perea’s midsection.
The Mexican’s toughness came at the expense of self-preservation, and if any truth emerged from a card in which everyone who was supposed to win did, it’s the absurd capacity of Perea and his countrymen to endure punishment. This is an endearing trait, at least until the awe at watching someone withstand hundreds of clean punches is replaced by concern for the fighter’s well-being. Perea was never going to be competitive, and what transpired was not so much a fight as a test of his cerebrospinal fluid’s ability to buffer his brain from slamming against the walls of his skull.
But in the unforgiving machinery of professional boxing, a young lion needs prey on which to feast, and this is why Perea found his way into a ring with Custio Clayton. Like all vaunted prospects, Clayton must first collect the scalps of experienced, overmatched pros, before moving on to higher competition. And a step-up should come soon, perhaps on the undercard of Adonis Stevenson’s next fight. But wherever he appears, reality will remain shrouded by spectacle, and emerge only when Clayton faces someone who poses a threat. — Eliott McCormick