Boxing Gala at the Montreal Casino | Surprise draw with taste of defeat for Bazinyan

After 140 consecutive victories – 108 among amateurs, 32 among professionals – Erik Bazinyan did not win his fight on Thursday evening at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal.

The Laval boxer did not lose, but it was just like: a draw against Shakeel Phinn, a “local” opponent whom he had to dominate, at least defeat convincingly.

“For me, it’s like a defeat,” lamented Bazinyan (32-0-1, 23 KOs), looking dejected, a few minutes after the announcement of the score at the end of the 10 rounds contested in an electric atmosphere.

The three judges declared a draw by decision: 97-93 in favor of Phinn for Pasquale Procopio, 96-94 for Bazinyan in the opinion of Jack Woodburn, and 95-95 according to judge Nicolas Esnault, who found himself to “decide” indirectly.


Shakeel Phinn

The decision was greeted with a good dose of boos from the approximately 600 noisy spectators divided between the two clans, who spent most of the duel on the edge of their seats, if not standing.

Phinn (26-3-2, 17 KOs) was the first to appear in front of the journalists, all smiles, even if he felt that he fully deserved the victory.

“I think I had it and they didn’t want to give him a first defeat,” said the Brossard pugilist, who was certainly the most offensive.


Shakeel Phinn and Erik Bazinyan at the end of the duel

“His shots were precise, mine hit harder,” he analyzed. It made a bit of a difference in the fight. He was shaken several times and I was: “Let’s go, let’s continue!” I threw more effective punches. »

While Bazinyan is in the top three in the rankings of three of the main sanctioning bodies, Phinn was nowhere before the duel. To the point that the Eye of the Tiger Management clan maintained that its foal was in a “league of its own”.

I proved to their promoter that there wasn’t a world of difference. Maybe we’re on the same level, maybe I’m a little higher than him. I think I have more heart, but he’s a good boxer. I think I won that fight.

Shakeel Phinn

After a reasonable start for Bazinyan, Phinn gradually gained the upper hand over an opponent he knew very well having trained with him for around ten years. The 33-year-old pugilist brought his raw strength to bear, while Bazinyan looked for solutions when he found himself stuck in cables and corners on several occasions.

After suffering a hail of blows in the fifth round, Bazinyan made a gesture with his arm to taunt his rival, an unusual attitude for the generally reserved and business-minded 28-year-old. “I just wanted to box, to remain a good boxer,” he reacted, short of explanations and with a swollen left eye after this poor performance.

“I’m really disappointed with what happened. I tip my hat to my opponent. It wasn’t my night. I know I could do better than that. It wasn’t something good. I’m disappointed, we’ll continue, I can’t say anything more. »

“I thought I had it”

Late in the ninth, Bazinyan found himself in trouble in the corner. Prostrate, gloves around his head, he suffered a rain of strikes from Phinn. The latter expected referee Martin Forest to end the duel, as he had explained to him in the locker room at the start of the evening.


Referee Martin Forest watches the fight closely.

“He told me: ‘If I see five, six punches and you don’t respond, I’ll stop the fight.’ But I throw like 10 shots and the other one is like this (he leans over). It’s like: OK, stop the f***cking fighting! Yo, it’s over! »

Phinn says he left a lot of energy in this sequence, which cut his legs a bit in the 10the and final assault. “But I thought I had it, the fight, I thought I had it…”

Marc Ramsay, the coach de Bazinyan, assures that he was not surprised by Phinn’s strong opposition. “People put Erik on a pedestal because we know him in Quebec and he gave great performances,” he noted. He’s an international level guy. We all know it. But people knew very little about Phinn.

As a coach, I have observed him for a long time. I knew we had a complicated fight. I hadn’t lied to Erik about that. I had mentally prepared him for a fight that would be tough.

Marc Ramsay, Erik Bazinyan’s coach, on Shakeel Phinn

Without condemning his protégé, Ramsay found that he had “become physically involved very quickly”. “Maybe it wasn’t to his advantage. He has little things to work on. I think Erik remains a more complete and better boxer. It remains to be proven and it is up to us to do it. »

Small consolation, Bazinyan retains his NABF super middleweight belt (168 lbs). The WBA intercontinental title at stake, however, remains vacant. The native Armenian, who only lost his very first amateur fight, at the age of 13, should not fall in the rankings. Perhaps his vulnerability displayed on Thursday will attract better positioned opponents who were wary of him? Ramsay says he has seen both scenarios before.

Estephan “disappointed”

Promoter Camille Estephan, who anticipated an “80-20” fight in favor of Bazinyan, was obviously disappointed with the turn of events, having a draw on his own scorecard.

“I expected a lot more than that,” admitted the boss of Eye of the Tiger Management. You have to give credit to Shakeel; he really wanted victory. You saw it. That’s what’s fun about local fights: you’ll often find the best performances from the guys who are overlooked. But Erik is capable of much better than that. »

Estephan noticed that Bazinyan “didn’t listen well to the corner.” “What Marc Ramsay asked of him, he didn’t do. We do not know why. Was it the emotions? Probably. »

Is a rematch in the cards? Phinn promoter Tyler Buxton doesn’t expect Estephan to answer the phone as quickly as he did when he first got the offer…

“We had plans in mind, but we must not sell the bear’s skin before having killed it… We will sit down (and think), but it is sure that it is a fight that the fans would like to see, that I would like to see. »

At the end, Estephan said that he would not sleep all night: “I have a very, very bitter taste, but it’s less bad than a defeat, which would have been catastrophic. »

In any case, promoter Buxton was looking for him after the press briefing…


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