The next installment of the popular DiBella Entertainment-promoted Broadway Boxing series, scheduled for tomorrow night (June 3) in Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, in Mashantucket, CT, will have a special meaning for three Connecticut-based participants: comebacking lightweight Matt “Sharp Shooter” Remillard, rising welterweight prospect Mykquan Williams, and their head trainer Paul Cichon.
The Broadway Boxing series is presented by Nissan of Queens, Azad Watches, OPTYX, and Christos Steak House. The June 3rd card will feature some of New England’s best fighters. Remillard is matched against former WBC International Silver super bantamweight champion Fatiou Fassinou (27-5-3, 14 KOs), of Benin, in an eight-round lightweight match that has been elevated to the card’s main event with the cancellation of the Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent vs. Jerri “Fists of Fury” Stitzes fight.
The 30-year-old Remillard (24-1, 13 KOs), of Manchester, CT, and East Hartford’s 19-year-old Williams (6-0, 4 KOs) have taken much different routes to get where they’re currently at in their respective lives. Both train out of Manchester (CT) ROCS (Ring of Champions Society) boxing gym, which Cichon owns and operates.
Remillard is a former WBC Youth, WBC-USNBC, NABF and NABO featherweight champion, whose lone pro loss was in March 2011 to undefeated rising star Mikey Garcia, now the reigning WBC world lightweight champion. Remillard was inactive after that fight due to serving a five-year prison sentence.
Williams’ father was murdered when Mykquan, who will graduate from high school soon after Saturday’s fight, was just a week old, and 10 years later his house was burned to the ground.
Remillard and Williams fought on the same card in Worcester, MA, on April 1, with Matt taking an eight-round unanimous decision against Augustine Mauras, who recently took 2012 Olympic gold medalist Faziddin Gaibnazorov the complete eight-round distance in a loss by decision, while Williams stopped Mexican Israel Rojas in the opening round.
The common denominator for Remillard and Williams is Cichon, who is one of the best and most respected boxing trainers in New England, despite him not having any boxing background to speak of when he first started working corners.
“I know they fought together in Worcester,” Cichon explained, “but this is going to be special because Matt will be fighting in his home state for the first time in six years, and Mykey competes in his first six-round fight. I’m in the best place of my life right now. I had a horrible childhood and when I grew into a man, instead of being bitter, I decided to try to help kids so they wouldn’t grow up like me. I’m not getting rich off Matt, Mykey or my gym, but I’m glad I’m doing what I am for these kids. I didn’t know anything about this game when I started but I helped Matt get to No. 2 in the world and Mykey is a five-time national champion. I’m extremely proud of that, especially having no boxing background. I tried boxing in the Golden Gloves for a year, but went back to the streets. I studied hard and was a quick learner from guys like Johnny Duke.
“Matt came to my gym for the first time when he was 13. I wouldn’t let him do anything except sweep the floor and clean out the spit buckets for the first three weeks, until he finally said, ‘please’. (Retired boxer) Addy Irizarry brought Mykey to my gym when he was seven years old. At 11, he was carrying Matt’s belts into the ring for his fights. They have a big brother/little brother relationship growing now. During sparring sessions, Mykey is faster and sharper, but Matt’s more experienced and that’s making Mykey better. Mykey was as pleased as I was to have Matt back at ROCS. They’re different, personality-wise, but good people. Matt is more reserved and Mykey’s an extrovert.”
“Paul’s like a second father to me,” Remillard said. “We’ve been through thick and thin together. He was there through the worst time in my life. We’re best friends; he’d never stab me in the back and it’s good to have him in my corner.
“It’s getting to be like a brotherly relationship between Mykey and me. We’re still getting to know one another and the vibes in the gym have been getting stronger. I was away and it was like his gym when I came back, but he welcomed me with open arms. I try to help him out in the gym and guide him with my experience. We’re family at ROCS.
“I’m excited about this event. Foxwoods is an awesome venue to have a fight. I’ve always been comfortable fighting there. I’m blessed that DiBella Entertainment is giving me this opportunity to showcase my talents on such a tremendous card.”
Stepping up to six rounds for the first time in his young career, Williams will square off with Nicaraguan welterweight Ariel Vasquez (12-17-2, 9 KOs).
“Paul is a father figure to me as well,” said Williams. “He helps me a lot, in and out of the ring. My Aunt Addy introduced me to him. I met him 11 years ago and our bond has kept getting stronger. I wasn’t looking for a father figure, it just happened.
“I met Matt when I was 11, but we didn’t have a relationship back then. I was so young and quiet, while he was a pro boxer. There was no connection other than me carrying his belts into the ring. We’re both older now and I understand boxing much better. Since he came back, we have developed a good relationship. Matt has a lot more experience, he gives me advice and I learn from him. As soon as Paul asked me if I was okay with Matt coming back to our gym, I said yes because I knew that it would be good for both of us.
“This event on Saturday is going to be special for me and Matt. He’ll be fighting at home after a long layoff, and I’m excited to be in my first six-rounder. When we first met, he was a pro boxer and I was seven years old and didn’t know anything. Now, we’re fighting on the same card at home. It’s crazy!”
Other top New Englanders in action include Lynn, MA welterweight prospect Khiry “TNT” Todd (4-0, 4 KOs), a 2016 New England Golden Gloves champion, who takes on battle-tested Togo fighter Nicolas Sarouna (12-8-1, 9 KOs) in a four-round match, and Providence lightweight Jennifer “The Bolivian Queen” Salinas (19-4, 5 KOs) against Marquita Lee (3-4), of Novato, CA. Salinas, who recently challenged for the IBF female super featherweight world championship, is a former UBF world super featherweight champion.
In the six-round co-featured bout, unbeaten New York-based heavyweights will collide in their toughest tests to date as Russian Ruslan Shamalov (4-0, 3 KOs) faces George Arias (6-0, 3 KOs).
Russian amateur prodigy Radzhab “The Python” Butaev (5-0, 4 KOs), co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Fight Promotions Inc. and managed by Vadim Kornilov, will be showcased against Mexico’s Abraham Alvarez (22-10-1, 11 KOs) in an eight-round bout.
Decorated Cuban amateur Luis “El Leon” Garcia (14-0, 11 KOs), fighting out of Peekskill, NY, will meet veteran Mexican cruiserweight Felipe “El Indio” Romero (19-13-1, 13 KOs), fighting out of San Diego, in a six-round clash. Garcia is a former world junior championship gold medalist, while Romero was a WBC FECOMBOX cruiserweight and super middleweight champion.
In his US debut, Puerto Rican welterweight Jose Roman (3-0, 3 KOs) will take on William Hill (2-2), of Detroit, in a four-round welterweight fight. Roman was a three-time member of the Dominican Republic National boxing team.
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets for the June 3 Broadway Boxing event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and presented by Nissan of Queens, Azad Watches, OPTYX, and Christos Steak House, are priced at $125, $75 and $45. Tickets can be purchased online at Foxwoods.com, Ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-200-2882, or visiting the Foxwoods box office. Doors open at 7:00pm, with the first fight scheduled for 7:30pm.