By Dave Spencer at ringside
Former world title challenger Dierry “Dougy Style” Jean (26-1 18KO) lost some weight but still looked great Friday night as the Montreal fighter returned home and captured the NABF lightweight title with a 8th round TKO victory at 1:21 over Mario Perez (15-6-4 9KO). Campaigning his entire career at 140 pounds, Jean was able to move down and still retained his speed and power, twice dropping Perez who was late substitute for the lightweight belt in the eighth.
Perez attempted to use the entire perimeter of the ring in an effort to avoid Jean on the night but the hometown fighter remained patient and cut off the ring well in an attempt to make his opponent engage, landing the cleaner harder shots when they did.
The Toronto-trained boxer handled the shots well, but when Jean started upping the pressure and landed a left to the body followed by a right upstairs, Perez tried his best to spin out but was worn down to the point where a knee was the only escape. Jean sensing the opportunity, didn’t let up and soon had Perez down again on the opposite side of the ring where his trainer had seen enough and stopped the fight.
In what easily could have been the headline attraction of the night, Steve Franjic 12-0-1 7KO) won an all-Canadian light-heavyweight battle in impressive style over a rugged Andy Gardiner (10-2 6KO) with a TKO victory at 2:34 of the 5th round. It was an eagerly awaited battle between two Ontario trained fighters with similar records and experience, and from the opening bell, it didn’t disappoint with some serious action and Franjic scoring a pair of knockdowns.
“I knew the left hook was there and he kept giving it to me,” said Franjic after the fight, “I think I caught him with a good one on the chin and he went down.”
Gardiner did indeed go down, backwards into the ropes like a ton of bricks and while he did manage to get to his feet, there was no hesitation with referee Steve St Germain waving the contest off.
Gardiner had charged out of the gate hard and fast and did his best to overwhelm Franjic who remained calm and weathered the early storm before turning the tables. The Orangeville fighter was able to use the entire ring well and thwart the straight ahead movements of Gardiner while delivering crisp and often damaging combinations of his own. “I’m not the greatest mover,” admitted Fanjic afterwards. “I’m not the greatest boxer, I’ll admit that, especially for my height, but we worked on a lot of things, little fakes, angles, and little movements and to stay off the ropes when we could.”
Little things soon provided big dividends for Franjic who had Gardiner down in the third as a thrilling toe-to-toe battle turned in a hurry. “It was a left hook right on the temple,” Franjic told FightNews afterwards. “I caught him as he was coming in, it was a clean shot as he was coming forward and I don’t think he saw it coming.”
Gardiner recovered well and was again charging hard to start the fourth, doing some of his best work of the fight trying to turn it into an inside fight, but also was caught stationary too many times with Franjic taking full advantage.
The contest had some tremendous back and fourth action, but Franjic left no shot unanswered, “We were planning to box a bit, but we knew we had to fight him on the inside, because we knew there was no way we were going to outbox for ten rounds. We knew we had to fight him on the inside, and that’s where I caught him.”
Given the impression that Gardiner made with his ten round decision loss versus world top-ten Elieder Alvarez, the win for Franjic is huge. “I don’t think it could have gone any better in my wildest dreams. I expected it to be tough hard fight, but it was actually easier than I thought. I’m so happy, I really don’t think it could have gone any better.”
Other winners on the night included an impressive display by super-middleweight Schiller Hyppolite (12-1 9KO) who forced opponent Mohammed Akrong (20-7 15KO) retire after 5 rounds. The Hussain brothers fought on the same card for the first time with junior-midlleweight Mian scoring three knockdowns in less than a minute over a badly over-matched Cesar Chavez (21-7 9KO) getting the TKO victory at :59. Welterweight Ayaz Hussain meanwhile took a bit longer in stopping Michelino Di Mari at 1:06 of the 2nd. Junior-middleweight Steven Butler (3-0)obliterated Mikael Mathieu with a right hand at 3:00 of the opening round while Roody Pierre-Paul (9-2 5KO) lost a 60-54 (x3) decision to Christian Uruzquieta.