When people talk about the resurgence of boxing in Montreal, part of that discussion is Camille Estephan’s Eye Of The Tiger Management and their Fight Club series. The latest event to show off their deep roster of talent goes down tonight at the historic Métropolis Concert Hall in downtown Montreal, a terrific venue to watch the action, and word is it may be a sell-out. EOTTM has come under some criticism in the past for offering boxing cards short on competitive fights; hopefully Montreal fight fans will see some exciting rumbles at the Métropolis tonight.
Once again, the headliner for this “Fight Club” event is undefeated 140 lb. prospect Steven Butler (15-0-1), fresh off winning the IBF ‘Youth’ super-welterweight title this past March. Naturally, Estephan is high on his rising prospect, telling Herb Zurkowsky at The Montreal Gazette, “He has a great boxing IQ, amazing power, he’s serious and very mature … [with] great skills and a great coach. What more can you want?”
Butler’s opponent, Ferdinand Pilz of Germany, is also undefeated and has 12 stoppage wins in 16 fights so the case can be made that this is Butler’s most formidable opponent to date. However, Pilz has not faced anyone with Butler’s kind of talent and pedigree, so the match is actually a bigger step up for the German than it is for the Montrealer. We foresee another impressive performance from “Bang Bang” but hopefully Pilz is competitive while it lasts.
At the very least, the undercard offers some compelling storylines. Super-middleweight Schiller Hyppolite is coming off a thrilling and somewhat disputed points victory over legendary journeyman Darnell Boone at the Olympia show. In that fight, which saw Schiller absorb some terrific shots from the powerful Boone and survive a knockdown, we learned much about Hyppolite’s character, toughness and will to win. Hyppolite should have learned a great deal too and now has a chance to further test himself against another experienced opponent in Argentina’s Pablo Daniel Zamora (32-13-1) who is 5-1 in his last six outings.
Former two-time world title challenger Dierry Jean (29-2) returns to the ring after successfully battling problems with addiction, specifically alcohol and gambling. Jean has gone through three stints of rehab over the last several years and now freely admits that any further missteps could mean the end of his career. Jean’s last outing in October saw him fight gamely but ineffectively against undefeated super-lightweight champion Terence Crawford, so the stakes are high (pun intended) for tonight’s comeback match with Filipino Ricky Sismundo (30-9-2). If Jean wants another chance at the big time, he needs to win tonight, look good, and then stay out of trouble.
Another compelling story is that of super-lightweight Ghislain Maduma (17-2) who faces Argentina’s Cesar Inalef (20-5-2). Maduma is coming off a career-changing experience as he was Manny Pacquiao’s main sparring partner for the Pacman’s preparations ahead of his rubber match with Timothy Bradley last month. The eight-time champion’s trainer, Freddie Roach, publicly praised Maduma for his work with Pacquiao and has agreed to help guide his career moving forward. Naturally that means added pressure for Maduma as he looks to bounce back from a disputed points loss to Maurice Hooker last October on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin vs David Lemieux. The decision received a chorus of boos from the crowd, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ghislain has one win in his last three bouts. A victory tonight is essential.
Also appearing on the card tonight are more undefeated prospects from the Eye Of The Tiger stable, including Mian Hussain, Batyr Jukembayev, Vanessa Lepage Joanisse and Mathieu “G-Time” Germain. Our own Manny Montreal attended the live workouts ahead of tonight’s card, so check out the videos. If you’re not able to catch the card live at The Métropolis, you can view it via online pay-per-view at punchinggrace.com.
— Robert Portis