Saturday night at the Hamilton Convention Centre, Three Lions Promotions, in front of a full house, in their second Professional Boxing event in Canada…set the stage for Hamilton, Ontario, Canada native, Steven “The Piranha” Wilcox (17-2-1), to make his first defense of his WBA – NABA Super Lightweight Title. In dominant fashion, with his father and renowned trainer Bob Wilcox in his corner, alongside Ryan Grant of the famed Canadian Grant brother’s family, another renowned boxing coach himself. Steven Wilcox over the course of 10 rounds of high paced action, completely dismantled Mexican rival Oscar Arjona (now 13-6 after the loss). Wilcox had previously been on the short end of a disputed decision to Arjona in an 8 rounder in Mexico last December, in a rainy outdoor venue. In a fight that was so controversial, the official decision had actually been overturned more than once. Wilcox with his belt now on the line for the first time, his family, his hometown, NHL’ers and Canadian Boxing Legends and Superstars of the past and present on hand watching (including George Chuvalo, Marvin “The Weasel” Elkind, Billy “The Kid” Irwin, Donovan Boucher, Sandy Tsagouris, Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool, Egerton Marcus, Asif Dar…) came out of the gate, looking to avenge a poor decision, that he along with many others, felt he was on the short end of. ..And Wilcox went out and did just that!
It was clear from the very first round that Wilcox, who was getting off first, and more often, was not only the quicker handed boxer. Steven Wilcox was also packing a lot more pop in his punches than Oscar Arjona. As the battle went on, this size, power and speed differential would become more and more evident. After an easy first round to score in favour of the Canadian, Arjona himself knew he had to step up his game, and he certainly tried to. The second round opened up with Arjona throwing more combinations, and landing more often than Wilcox. However Wilcox’s patience and ring savvy was also being rewarded, and as the round went on, it was the Steel Town Boxer who was inflicting the higher levels of damage with his counter punching, swift jabs, and combinations whenever he let his hands go in flurries. Not to be outdone, Steven Wilcox then upped the tempo once again in this tilt, even more in the 3rd round, and Wilcox set a pace that he never looked back on, winning every round of the bout in impressive fashion every step of the way. Steven Wilcox’s consistent pressure had Arjona wobbled at the end of the 6th round. “The Piranha” then dropped Arjona twice in a very short span in the 7th, and the fight looked like it was done. But credit to Oscar Arjona for truly being “Mexican Tough”, and just as his nickname “Elegante” would suggest, Arjona added his fair share of flash to this fight every chance he got. Wilcox was just so superior of a Pugilist though; he didn’t let Arjona get away with doing it very often, and at the end of the contest, Oscar was undoubtedly bested by “The Piranha”. After Arjona survived to the final bell, the referee’s all officially saw Steve Wilcox win every single round, as scores were 100-88 unanimously across the board. From ringside I scored the bout 100-89 with the second round even, and Wilcox earning 10 points in every single round of this rematch.
Steven Wilcox is also the Sports Ambassador for “Have a Heart Cayman Islands”, a charitable organization that partners with both local and international partners to sponsor and provide life saving heart surgery for children all over the world. Three Lions Promotions held a dinner, an auction and various other fund raising initiatives, with proceeds going to “Have a Heart Cayman Islands” at this event. Steven Wilcox additionally donated proceeds from his purse to the charity as well.
After the contest, Wilcox revealed that he had sustained a hand injury right around the second knockdown in the 7th round. Steven Wilcox with one hand injured, won all three of those final rounds, on all three official scorecards!
In the Co-Main event, in a bout many walked away from saying that it was the Fight of the Night, Hamilton’s own Kevin Higson (11-1) also got his chance at redemption in the form of a rematch with Mexican Boxer, Martin Islas (11-3). Islas had handed Higson his only loss of his career in October of last year, at this very same venue, at Three Lions Promotions’ inaugural event. ..And Kevin Higson didn’t waste any time getting ahead on the scorecards, this time around. As after a short spell of both Boxers jockeying for superior positioning, Higson opened the contest firing away with explosive shots at a heavy rate of fire. Islas after looking overwhelmed towards the end of the 1st round; started out the second round much more composed. He used tactical distancing and lateral movement of his own, to slow down the high connect percentage that Higson had been compiling earlier. But a relentless Kevin Higson wouldn’t stop letting his hands go, and as the round wore on, both Boxers landed punishing blows in the exchanges that ensued. After two rounds, I had the bout even on my score card, in this already hard fought battle. With six rounds still to go, Kevin Higson turned on the jets in the 3rd round, as the war between these two combatants, over the course of two bouts now, waged on. Both the effect of the impressive body work Higson was putting on display, (ala his trainer Billy “The Kid” Irwin who was in Higson’s corner along with Bob Wilcox) and the many power shots that Higson was mixing in, up top, appeared to be taking a toll on his Mexican counterpart. Who was now wearing the damage on his face, and looked to be slowing down at the halfway point of this fight. The fourth round, like a microcosm of this fight up to this point, was all give and go. A see-saw round where the action was initiated back and forth, just as the individual rounds had been going up to this point as well.
With the fans in attendance at the edges of their seats, the home-town Steel Town Boxer kicked it into another gear, a gear that Martin Islas just didn’t appear to have in his arsenal. It was all Higson in the 5th and 6th rounds that followed. Islas saw a high number of his punches missing their mark, and the ones that landed, didn’t have the power behind them that they initially had, that were previously keeping Higson honest. As a result, Higson began picking away at Islas, working him over even more with combinations that mixed up shots both upstairs, and down to the body. The durable Mexican Martin Islas mounted one last surge at Kevin Higson in the 7th round. But a very composed Higson regained control of the fight in the final round, punching his ticket to the victory on the official scorecards which read: 77-75 twice in favour of Kevin Higson, and 77-75 once in favour of Martin Islas. I scored the fight 78-75 in favour of Kevin Higson, with the fourth round being even. So even though the result of this closely fought contest was officially a split decision, the judges at the end of the day, regardless of what kind of action they preferred inside the ropes, I feel, got the decision correct in awarding Kevin Higson the well deserved win. Additionally with the victory, Higson was also able to avenge the only loss on his professional record. With “The Avengers” Wilcox and Higson, both picking up victories against opponents they had previously lost to, Boxing fans in Hamilton have a lot to be excited about looking forward. Especially considering the great poise and potential their athletes just demonstrated under pressure, while facing such adversity.
In a Heavyweight Tilt that right off the hop, had a David versus Goliath look to it. With 6’6, 225 plus pound giant, Mladen “Monster” Miljas (now 5-0, 5 KO’s) a Croatian native that’s now a long time resident of Mississauga, Ontario, who trains under a head coach to a number of past Canadian Champions, as well as current WIBA Super Bantamweight World Champion, Sandy “Lil Tyson” Tsagouris, in Billy Martin. Toeing the line opposite Carlos “Papi” Carreon (4-3) of Mexico, who literally appeared to be about a foot shorter, and looked like he was about the same weight as the “Monster”, only a much, much rounder 225 plus pounds, give or take. Surprisingly though, it was Carreon who tried to get the jump on the big man right away at the opening bell. “Papi” came out swinging punches in bunches that simply bounced off the chest of Miljas, as he looked down at his aggressive opposition, with a smile on his face. Miljas caught up to the awkwardly quick Mexican “little” Heavyweight in the first round, which ended with Carreon crashing down to the canvas, and then beating the count. A solid and well placed left hook from the “Monster” dropped Carreon again in the second round. Mladen Miljas then moved in for the kill, and ended the fight decisively dropping Carreon for the second time in the 2nd round, and the third time in the contest. The referee had seen enough, and waived off any further damage, while Carreon looked like he wasn’t going to be capable of making it up to his feet before the count anymore anyway.
Former Canadian Super Bantamweight Champion, David “Buzz” Grant (11-4), an Orangeville, Ontario native who now calls Hamilton home, with his father and trainer Jim Grant, along with Bob Wilcox in his corner; Stepped between the ropes for the second time, after an almost 7 year lay-off, to battle against Isidro “Texano” Toala (10-6-1) of Mexico. At almost 39 years old, “Buzz” Grant actually moved around the ring like he was the younger fighter in this match-up, even though Toala is the one 15 years younger and only 24 years of age. The contest started off as a bit of a typical chess match, with the two Boxers feeling out their respective ranges and distancing early on. By the second round, “Buzz” Grant was consistently picking off his opponent’s advances with his gloves very effectively, while landing his own punches with high accuracy, completely dictating the pace. After the cerebral attack that Grant used to ever so technically, completely control the 3rd and 4th rounds of this 6 rounder. It was evident to everyone on hand that Toala needed at least a knockdown to even get back into this fight. The tough Mexican “Texano” though, gave it everything he had down the stretch. Swinging wild punches from different angles at Grant, along with haymakers, combinations, and everything he had left in him, in spurts, in those the final two rounds. But “Buzz” Grant was way too well refined. His footwork was far superior, as Grant continuously set traps that Toala just kept walking into…and once the dust settled, “Buzz” Grant well deservedly picked up the unanimous decision. The official scorecards read: 60-54 twice and 59-55 once. I also awarded “Buzz” the advantage on my scorecard in every single round of this lightweight bout and had it 60-54.
“The Tribute”, a charitable night of Professional Boxing by Three Lions Promotions, on the second anniversary of the passing of “the Greatest of All Time”. Which paid tribute to Boxing Legend and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, with the toughest man he every fought, according to the Legend himself, George Chuvalo there in person, paying homage and watching the action from ringside. With proceeds going to a very good cause in “Have a Heart Cayman Islands” started off their elegant and classy event with a pre-show that included an artful display of acrobatics, and even a fire show. But the opening fireworks didn’t stop there. In the first fight of the night, “The Brazilian Bomber” Mayron Vieira Zeferino (4-0) of Toronto, Ontario who boxes out of the well renowned, Grants MMA – Rival Boxing Gym, under the tutelage of Ryan Grant, faced off in the opening bout against previously undefeated Mexican Boxer, Abraham Juarez (4-1). With the way this fight started, once these two Boxers kicked off and let their hands go, you could see that neither fighter wanted this one to go the distance. It was Mayron Zeferino though, who was getting the better of the exchanges in the first round, as he landed long range bombs that had the crowd oohing and aahing. “The Brazilian Bomber” Zeferino, slipping punches and landing like a stealth bomber, then moved in on Juarez with an all out barrage in the 2nd round that dropped him clean. As soon as Juarez made it up to his feet, and the referee cleared him to continue, Zeferino pounced on his foe once again, and finished Abraham Juarez off with a flurry of punches in bunches, forcing the referee to halt the contest. Landing Mayron “The Brazilian Bomber” Zeferino the win via TKO in 2!
Cover Photo courtesy of: Photos by Alex