Firtha plans to upset Grano

Ohio heavyweight Nicolai “Stone Man” Firtha has made multiple visits to New England visiting relatives, but this Saturday night he’ll make his first business trip there, challenging Hartford heavyweight favorite Tony “TNT” Grano in the 10-round main event on the “Pride & Power” boxing show, presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports, Inc. (CES), at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

“I’m looking forward to fighting in New England for the first time,” Firtha said. “I have a lot of family there and hope that they’ll be supporting me at the fight. I’m humbled by this opportunity because I’m not with a big promoter and it is tough getting good fights like this. I’m hoping to be discovered. I only had a 2 ½-week notice – I was carrying my golf clubs – but I stay in good shape and ready for a call like we received.

“Styles make fights; I’m a classic boxer-puncher, he’s a classic slugger. The key for me is keeping him on the outside, boxing, and keeping my back off of the ropes. I want the action in the center of the ring. If I’m on the ropes, I lose. At some point in the fight, though, it’s going to be go-time, and I won’t go back.”

Firtha (17-7-1, 7 KOs) and Grano (17-1-1, 13 KOs), whose four-round knockout of previously undefeated Travis Kaufman last September on Showtime was named The Ring magazine’s 2009 Heavyweight Fight of the Year, will battle for the vacant NABA-US title.

“Nick is 6’ 6” and 245 pounds,” Firtha’s manager Pat Nelson added. “You’d never know he’s a fighter by the way he speaks and he looks like Kurt Warner. He’s a Klitschko prototype. It’s going to be a super competitive fight. I feel Nick possess more size and power, as well as more skill in the ring, than Grano. We’re anxious for the fight and hope that a big win will propel Firtha into the WBA world ratings.”

Hartford super bantamweight Mike “Machine Gun” Oliver (23-2, 8 KOs), the reigning New England and EBA champion, will be in a crossroads fight to continue his journey back to the top of the 122-pound division, taking on 4-time world title-holder Mauricio “Indio Boy” Pastrana (35-13-2, 23 KOs) in the 8-round co-feature.

Long Island light heavyweight Joe “The Irish Bomber” Smith Jr. (4-0, 4 KOs), the 2008 New York Golden Gloves Champion, goes for his fifth consecutive first-round knockout in his fifth pro fight against Walter Foster (4-2-1, 4 KOs) of Panama City, Panama.

Also on the undercard in 4-round bouts are New Haven middleweight “Slick” Rick Dawson (1-0, 1 KO), brother of light heavyweight star “Bad” Chad Dawson, vs. Jeremiah Jones (1-3-1), of Toledo, Ohio; Bridgeport (CT) super lightweight Carlos Hernandez (0-1) vs. Fall River’s (MA) pro-debuting Jonathan Vasquez; New Haven junior welterweight Edwin Soto (4-0, 2 KOs) vs. Bryan Abraham (2-3-1, 2 KOs); New Haven prospect Luis Rosa, Jr. (2-0) vs. pro-debuting John Passantino of Seldon, NY, and unbeaten Philadelphia welterweight Frankie Trader (6-0, 2 KOs) vs. Springfield’s (MA) Noel Garcia (2-3-1, 1 KO). All fights and fighters are subject to change.

Tickets for “Pride & Power,” priced at $40.00, $65.00 and $105.00, are available to purchase by calling CES (401.724.2253/2254), going online at or at the Mohegan Sun Box Office. Ticketmaster customers may log on to, call Ticketmaster’s national toll-free charge by phone (1.800.745.3000) or visit any Ticketmaster outlet.

For more information contact CES (401.724.2253/2254/ or Mohegan Sun ( Doors open at 6:00 PM/ET, first bout at 7:30 PM/ET.

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