By Hans Olson
It’s Grand Prix weekend here in Montreal, the annual Formula One race signalling summer’s arrival.
It’s thus only fitting that the final gala of Groupe Yvon Michel’s “Fast and Furious” series hits the Bell Centre Friday evening, headlined by the fastest rising prizefighter in its stable, Eleider “Storm” Alvarez (8-0).
“We believe that Eleider Alvarez is the real deal,” said promoter Yvon Michel to Boxing Insider Thursday afternoon. “He has the complete package of speed, power, imagination, and skill. We believe he will go places, and will play a major role in the light heavyweight division before long.”
Steamrolling past his opposition since turning professional in 2009, the Columbian-born Montreal resident was last seen shutting out the experienced Rayco Saunders over 8-rounds in a bout that aired live in the United States on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
Friday, Alvarez will face Shawn Hawk (23-1-1) in a bout scheduled for 12 rounds.
“He has only 8 fights,” continued Michel. “He’s fighting against a young veteran in Shawn Hawk who is 28 years old, and has only one loss which was in the cruiserweight division. He’s coming to challenge Alvarez—not like Saunders, who has more of a style to survive than to try to win.”
It’s the first time Alvarez will be featured in a main event, something Yvon embraces for his young pugilist.
“It’s a lot of pressure for Alvarez, but we believe to build him up, and to build himself into contention one day, he has to go through this kind of fight. He has to have, for the first time, a 12-rounder and have pressure on his shoulders. We believe he’s ready. He has all it takes to become a major star in boxing.”
In the evening’s co-feature Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas, who like Alvarez grew up in Columbia, goes for the 11th win of his professional career in what looks to be an interesting fight against Montreal’s Sylvera Louis in an 8-round heavyweight attraction.
“He’s a young boxer, now 25 years old,” says Michel of Rivas.
“It’s very young for a heavyweight, and he’s had 10 fights already. He’s getting more and more mature. It’s a good, good fight that I’m envisioning with Sylvera Louis, because this kid beat Eric Martel not long ago. And Louis challenged Rivas.
“He’s a former Canadian amateur champion, and I’m happy to see that somebody said ‘hey look, I believe I can beat that guy and be a headliner one day.’ So Rivas took the challenge and it’s going to be like a little bit of a grudge fight between two young heavyweights that want to prove themselves in Montreal.”
Laval’s Didier Bence is another promising heavyweight who’ll see action for the first time in nearly six months when he squares off with battle-hardened local gatekeeper, Stephane Tessier.
“He was injured for a while, that’s why he has been out for a bit,” explained Michel.
“He had a problem with the orbital bone around his eye. That happened in sparring, so it took a while before he was completely healed. We want him to be active. We gave him a tough assignment with Stephane Tessier, who never backs up against anyone, [and who has given] a hell of a lot of experience to young heavyweights.”
The night will also see the return of David Lemieux, looking to get back on track against Jaudiel Zepeda.
“Somebody asked me if this was the last chance for David Lemieux,” quipped Yvon.
“He’s 23 years old. He’s maybe 5 to 6 years from his peak!”
“You know, David Lemieux will win some, he will lose some…but he’s a spectacular explosive fighter that like Arturo Gatti, has to be seen. He’s a perfect guy for TV and for crowds. A real crowd pleaser. And with the power he’s got and his explosiveness, he will be one of the most popular boxers ever to from Quebec. I predict that to you.”
Rounding out the card will be Ghislain Maduma (8-0) vs. Robert Kiraly (7-3), and Andrew Gardiner (1-0) vs. Patrick Tessier (4-16-2).