Tomorrow night will see another excellent showcase of local boxing talent put on by the Grant Brothers and Rixa Promotions at the Pointe Claire Holiday Inn, but, sadly, the event will go ahead without one of the card’s top attractions.
Canadian champion Francis Lafreniere made weight earlier today, as did everyone else slated to appear, with the exception of the card’s co-headliner, talented prospect Erik Bazinyan. The Armenian-Canadian was scheduled to compete at the super-middleweight limit of 168 pounds but weighed in over 175. His opponent, Mohamed Sidi Slimani of Belgium, weighed 161, which meant the bout could not take place even if Slimani was comfortable competing at a weight disadvantage. Commission rules mandate the difference in weight between the two boxers cannot exceed 11 pounds.
It’s a frustrating setback for Bazinyan and it came as a shock to the Grant Brothers team. He had reportedly spent a great deal of time and effort in the days leading up to the weigh-in trying to shed the excess poundage, but for whatever reason, the weight simply refused to come off. His conditioning coach, Damien Orfanou, commented that the only positive to take from the situation was that the young Bazinyan, who is 8-0 with 5 stoppage wins and just turned 20-years-old, has no doubt learned a valuable lesson. “If this had to happen, I’m glad it did early in his career,” said Ofanou.
Some expressed frustration with the fact that Slimani came in so light, pointing out that if he had weighed just four pounds more it may have been feasible to go ahead with the match, but in the end the blame must fall on Bazinyan, who was perplexed and visibly upset over his inability to drop the weight, as well as the fact his fight had to be cancelled.
This was not the card’s first serious setback. Prospect Dwayne Durel was also scheduled to appear tomorrow night but two weeks ago he suffered an injury during sparring. A sharp pain in his wrist when landing a hard punch signaled a problem, though naturally all hoped it was nothing serious. But even after resting it for three days, Durel’s wrist did not feel right and a subsequent examination revealed ligament damage. To proceed with the scheduled fight meant risking a more serious injury requiring surgery, so Durel’s match was scratched and he watched his stablemates weigh-in while wearing a brace on his injured appendage.
Despite the cancellations, there remain several compelling reasons for Montreal fight fans to buy tickets for the show. Lafreniere, along with Custio Clayton, Golden Garcia and Flavius Biea, together represent four of the most talented prospects in pro boxing so the chance to see them all compete cannot be overlooked. Plus, the card will open with a series of top level amateur fights.
Still, Bazinyan represents one of the Grant Brothers’ biggest attractions, as his talent and smooth boxing style have created much excitement on the local scene, while the Canadian-Armenian contingent has demonstrated enthusiastic support at his fights. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to rescue the match.
But if Grant Brothers Boxing and Rixa Promotions have demonstrated anything in the time since they began staging local boxing shows in Montreal, it’s an unswerving dedication to their talent and resilience in the face of adversity. Plus, if their big success at the Olympia Theater last March is anything to go by, plenty of intense action should be in store for fans of the squared circle tomorrow night. — Michael Carbert
Photos by Manny Montreal (@MannyMtl)