By Marco Bratusch
Tonight in Paris, MK Events is about to promote one of the richest boxing card in recent years of French boxing, broadcasted live by Canal + in France. The event is staged at the historic Cirque d’Hiver, a place built in 1852 when it was originally named Cirque Napoléon in honor of Emperor Napoleon III and where, during following years, several entertainment shows as well as art exhibitions from painters as famous as Toulouse-Lautrec were hosted. Boxing can be seen just as another form of art, and it’s definitely gratifying to watch it staged in this kind of locations once in a while.
Three French championships will open the bill, followed up by two European Union (EU) bouts, plus a female IBF world title and a (male) IBF eliminator as main event.
Cedric Vitu (45-2, 18 KOs) vs. Marcello Matano (17-2, 5 KOs) will be the feature bout of the evening, and the next IBF mandatory challenger for super welterweight titlist Jarrett Hurd will come out from this clash. The French Vitu is an accurate, skilfull southpaw from Creil. He holds the European title and defended it four times, yet that belt will not be at stake tonight, as confirmed by EBU, and will become vacant if Vitu comes out as the winner. In his last bout against Spanish fighter ‘Chaca’ Real, Vitu visited the canvas in round three, then managed to recover but struggled all night for the pressure and physical strength of his foe, eventually earning a close unanimous decision by picking his punches.
Matano, from Occhiobello, Italy, will face his second IBF eliminator after his 7-round defeat by the hands of Jullian Williams one year ago. The slightly shorter Matano, a former Italian titlist, is the less experienced of the two and a fair underdog. However, his aggressive style might provide a good show for the crowd as he needs to bring the fight to Vitu in order to get closer and to play his chance. Most of all, Matano should try to take advantage of Vitu’s intermittent pace of fighting. Anyway, the bottom line remains that Vitu can be seen as the favorite aside from being the local boxer. At the same-day morning IBF weigh-in Matano tipped the scale at 159 pounds wearing his clothes on and Vitu at 156.4 – the limit was 164.
Hakim Zoulikha, the European Union (EU) title holder at light heavyweights, tackles Italian citizen puncher Serhiy Demchenko (17-11-1, 12 KOs), in what can be considered a sure fan-friendly affair because of the aggressive style of both men. Zoulikha (24-8, 10 KOs) has summed up concrete experience facing, although losing to, top-rated fighters like Robin Krasniqi and Sullivan Barrera, and comes from a victory against contryman Kevin Tomas Cojean in their second meeting. Demechenko is a tough, dedicated prizefighter who has been travelling thoughtout Europe in order to face opponents often taken with short notice, and his record his also the result of that behaving. The 7-year younger, and shorter, Zoulikha can be seen more of a volume-puncher who works from the inside while Demchenko appears a puncher who takes his time waiting for the good opening. It seems very unlikely that one of the two foe decides to box instead of trading leather, and a heated fight is expected.
A classic crossroad bout is well represented in the vacant European Union (EU) lightweight title at stake for two young boxers as Marvin Petit (20-1-1, 10 KOs) and Jerobe “Chocolatito” Santana (15-0, 5 KOs). The first, aged 26, has lost only to Yvan Mendy years ago but he has since then improved and is a man able to suffer in the ring. Santana, 23-year-old from Spain, is considered a blue chip in his country, a conservative and talented fighter, able to box either at short or long distance. He will now have the opportunity to prove it, while Petit to reinforce his legacy gaining his first continental belt.
IBF female world champion Maiva Hamadouche (15-1, 12 KOs), 26, is due to defend his belt for the second time taking the challenge of the tall, official opponent from Argentina Anahi Esther Sanchez (15-1, 7 KOs), 25, a former IBF titlist herself, in the junior lightweight division. Both women had their only losses fighting abroad in very competitive fights.
Among the three 10-round French titles on the card, appears very interesting the match in the light heavyweight division between 19-year-old prospect Louis Toutin (6-0, 6 KOs), who has won all his fights inside the distance, and an experienced man like Hugo Kasperski (29-7-1, 20 KOs), aged 29, who has never been stopped in thirty-seven professional fights. Many French boxing insiders think it might actually happen tonight, facing Toutin.
Samir Kasmi (22-12-1, 6 KOs) vs. Samir Ziani (24-3-1, 5 KOs), for the French junior lightweight title, and Herve Loffidi (5-1, 1 KOs) vs. Siril Makiadi (7-1, 2 KOs), for the vacant French cruiserweight title complete the bill.