WBC Youth Featherweight champion Matt Remillard easily defended a title he will soon outgrow by being what he claims to be – a sharp shooter.
Annie Oakley would have had nothing on Remillard Friday night at the Convention Center in Hartford, where he must have connected on 70 per cent of the torrent of punches he threw in the direction of outgunned Jose Magallon. For 10 rounds the undefeated 22-year-old from nearby Manchester, CT. drilled Magallon at will with a jab that could not have been sharper if it had been honed by a sword maker. A nasty left to the body that eventually left an angry red welt along the right side of Magallon’s body, and uppercuts when the two were on the inside that snapped the Las Vegans’ head back so many times a trip to the chiropractor to get it back on straight may soon be in order.
Remillard (14-0, 7 KO) continued his apprenticeship that began when he arrived at the Manchester PAL as a kid, assigned there by a court to do community service. There he met a cop named Paul Cichon who got him involved in an activity that would change his life – boxing.
Although often maligned by its critics, boxing has saved many more lives than it has injured and Remillard is among them. Boxing became the outlet that would not only keep him out of the police station but also put him in position to make something of himself. How much that will turn out to be remains unknown at this stage but Remillard’s plans are big ones.
“When you talk about Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez or Manny Pacquiao, you’re talking about legends of the sport,’’ Remillard said after easily winning a one-sided decision from a very game Magallon (9-5), who he dropped once and dominated from the opening bell to the final one.
“Those are guys I watch on television. It’s hard to think of me fighting someone like Pacquiao in a year or so but that’s my goal.’’
Remillard is the latest in a long line of sharp shooters from around Hartford, a list that includes one of boxing’s greatest defensive practitioners in Willie Pep as well as two-time welterweight champion Marlon Starling, who was in attendance Friday night to watch Remillard.
“It’s great to see boxing back in Hartford,’’ Remillard said. “There was a time when there were a lot of big-time fighters here. Bringing it back is one of my goals.’’
The larger one however is to become the 17th fighter to first win a WBC Youth title (under 23) and then go on to become a world champion. Much work remains for Remillard but he was a highly decorated amateur (115-25) who had gold medal performances in the last two Everlast Fran Jones under-19 national championships while also winning a bronze medal at the 2004 National PAL tournament.
Too impatient to wait for a shot at the 2008 Olympics, Remillard turned pro on April 1, 2005 in New Haven, stopping Arlington Pandy in two rounds. That began an unbroken streak of success that led him to claim the WBC Youth super featherweight title with a unanimous 10-round decision over previously undefeated Jose Hernandez (6-0 at the time) in Hartford. But with that victory would also came a wrist injury that separated the bones in his left hand. That required two surgeries and a 16-month layoff to repair, but there was a silver lining.
Although he would be forced to give up the title he had just won, Remillard worked diligently on his right hand, the only one he could use in training and that made him one of the few fighters comfortably fighting either with an orthodox style or as a southpaw.
When he returned to the ring in January, Remillard was given at shot at the youth featherweight title and he easily won it by out pointing Manuel Perez. Those kind of fights, like Friday night’s against Magallon, are learning experiences for Remillard, moments he hopes will continue until the night he stands in the ring looking across at an opponent whose legendary status he intends to alter.
“I have to stay patient now,’’ Remillard said. “I still have a lot to learn. Professional boxing is so different from the amateurs. I learn something from everybody I fight. I know there’s a lot of work to do.’’
On the undercard, undefeated Hartford heavyweight Tony “TNT” Grano (14-0-1, 12 KO) stopped Leroy Childs (13-2, 12 KO) at 2:43 of the opening round to end what figured to be a concussive night of brawling.
Childs outweighed the 224-pound Grano by an even 50 pounds but the former Connecticut bodybuilder seemed unconcerned about the difference and quickly showed why, beating Childs to the punch until he finally dropped him to one knee with a nifty combination. Although Childs pushed himself up at 9 1⁄2 and counting, referee Johnny Callas sensed his unwillingness to pursue this issue much further and stopped the fight.
Former middleweight title challenger Kingsley Ikeke (24-3) fought for the first time in 10 months and only the second time in nearly three years and escaped with an unpopular split decision over Dhafir Smith (20-18) of Philadelphia.
Ikeke was stopped inside five rounds three years ago by Arthur Abraham in Leipzig, Germany in a battle for the then vacant IBF middleweight title. Abraham still holds that crown and is among those jockeying to get into position for a unification fight with Kelly Pavlik, the near-cult hero from Youngstown, Ohio who successfully defended his world titles last weekend. Ikeke had earned that shot by stopping former title contender Antwun Echols but he would not fight again for nearly two years before coming back to lose a one-sided decision to undefeated Canadian prospect Jean Pascal 10 months ago.
Another long layoff followed that defeat and the 35-year-od Ikeke looked as if a goodly amount of ring rust had settled over his skills during that time period. It took Ikeke several rounds to seem comfortable against the busy Smith but he came on in the final three rounds to do enough to squeak out his margin of victory.
In the final two matches, welterweight Addy Irizarry (5-2, 2 KO) out pointed Kim Harris (5-10) and former 2000 National PAL champion Brian Macy (4-0, 2 KO) won a majority decision from last-minute replacement Bobo Starnino (9-4-1, 2 KO) that was roundly booed by the crowd. Starnino took the fight on short notice but clearly came to fight. He was the aggressor throughout the four round super middleweight match and his southpaw stance seemed to leave Macy cold. Unfortunately, it seemed Starnino would have had to knock him cold to win the decision from the hometown favorite, a UConn grad who until recently had been working as a blackjack dealer at nearby Foxwoods Casino.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV