Heavyweight Tony “TNT” Grano got back on the winning track tonight in the main event on “The Willie Pep Boxing Classic,” presented by Hard Hittin’ Promotions, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Grano improved his record to 18-2-1 (14 KOs) with a sixth round technical knockout of crafty veteran “Diamond” Dominique Alexander (20-11-1, 10 KOs). Grano dropped Alexander three times in the final round.
“I am impressed by his durability,” Grano said after the fight. “I caught him with a lot of clean shots early. He’s a lot more durable than I thought. I hit him right on the button. It was a good experience for me. He gave me six rounds and I needed to be back in the ring. Surprisingly, he took my best shots. I didn’t think he had a good chin. I want to fight again very soon. I’m in great shape. I want to keep busy. I hope to fight again in May or June.”
In the co-feature, Meriden bantamweight prospect Danny Aquino (6-1, 2 KOs) turned in a very impressive performance, effectively working the body and then going upstairs to stop James Owens (4-3, 2 KOs) at 2:12 of the opening round. Aquino hurt Owens with a powerful left hook, trapping him on the ropes, and then unloading a barrage of punishing punches until referee Danny Schiavone signaled that the fight was over.
Fan friendly East Hartford super featherweight Joseph “Chip” Perez’ unbeaten win streak ended at five when he was disqualified for hitting undefeated Esteban Nichol, who had been decked and was on one knee as the referee counted.
Philadelphia light weight Frank Trader (8-0) kept his undefeated record intact, winning all six rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory against a game Tommy Atencio.
Welterweight Shakha Moore won his first fight in nearly four years by way of a technical decision against Noel Garcia. The scheduled six-round bout was halted after four due to damages resulting from accidental head-butts by both fighters.
Ian Cannon, an 18-year-old college student, was matched with former New England Golden Gloves champion Luis Reynoso, of Springfield (MA), in a wheelchair boxing exhibition (three, one minute-rounds) under amateur boxing rules (headgear, large gloves, etc.). Cannon, of Glastonbury (CT), suffers from cerebral palsy but he trains regularly at Lion’s Den Connecticut in Middletown, where he has created a wheelchair boxing program, Rollin With The Punches
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra proclaimed Saturday, April 9, 2011 as Willie Pep Day in a special ceremony, in which the late Pep’s son, Billy, represented the family.
Tony Grano (18-2-1, 14 KOs), Hebron, CT WTKO6 (2:09) Dominique Alexander (20-11-1, 10 KOs), Topeka, KS
Shakha Moore (11-15-3, 2 KOs), Norwalk, CT WTD4 (40-36, 39-37, 39-37) Noel Garcia (2-9, 1 KO), Springfield, MA
Esteban Nichol (3-0, 1 KO), Denver, CO WDQ3 (1:23) Joseph Perez (5-1, 2 KOs), E. Hartford, CT
Frank Trader (8-0, 2 KOs), Philadelphia, PA WDEC8 (60-54-60-54, 60-54) Tommy Atencio (5-7, 3 KOs), Denver, CO
Danny Aquino (6-1, 2 KOs), Meriden, CT WTKO1 (2:12) James Owens (4-3, 2 KOs), Milwaukee, WI