Christian Mbilli Demolishes Demond Nicholson to Inch Closer to a Title Shot


By Arne K. Lang

Camille Estephan’s Eye of the Tiger Promotions was at a government-owned casino in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada tonight with a card that ran for six hours on ESPN+. In the main event, Christian Mbilli dominated and ultimately stopped Demond Nicholson in a brutal fashion. The end came at the 1:56 mark of round four.

The Cameroon-born Mbilli, a 2016 Olympian for France, was coming off his most difficult fight, a 10-round war with Ecuador’s rugged Carlos Gongora, also a former Olympian. He entered the bout ranked #1 at 168 pounds by the WBC, #2 by the WBA, #4 by the IBF, and #6 by the WBO. The 30-year-old Nicholson, from the Baltimore-Washington metroplex, had been stopped twice previously, but those mishaps happened early in his career. The first man to go the distance with Edgar Berlanga, Nicholson went 12 rounds with Demetrius Andrade in his previous bout.

Mbilli, who improved to 25-0 with his 21st knockout, had Nicholson (26-6-1) on the canvas before the match was two minutes old. He decked Nicholson again with a chopping right hand in the final minute of round two and finished the job with a punch described as an overhand left hook. Nicholson fell backwards with his head landing outside the lower strand of rope and referee Michael Griffin waived it off without a count.


In the co-feature, super lightweight Steve Claggett continued late career surge with a lopsided 10-round decision over Mexico’s Carlos Sanchez. Claggett had Sanchez on the deck in rounds four, six, and seven and won by scores of 98-89 and 99-88 twice. It was the seventh straight win for Claggett (35-7-2, 25 KOs) who was coming off the best performance of his career, a third-round stoppage of Alberto Machado, a former world title-holder at 130 pounds

The small (16-foot) ring was an advantage to Claggett, a swarmer with a high workrate. The stubborn Sanchez, who lost for the second time in 26 outings, was a glutton for punishment.

Other Bouts of Note

Gatineau middleweight Alexandre Gaumont had his stiffest test to date, but prevailed by a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Ulices Tovar. The scores, 79-73 across the board, did not do justice to Tovar as many of the rounds were close. Gaumont, who reportedly stopped 12 of his 24 opponents as an amateur, improved to 9-0 (5) It was the first pro loss for Tovar (8-1) who has trained in Texas but had previously fought only in Mexico.

Mexican-Canadian super welterweight Christopher Guerrero, 22, advanced to 8-0 (4 KOs) with his fourth straight win by stoppage, halting Veselin Markov (7-1-1) who was making his first start outside Bulgaria.

Markov took a knee after absorbing a hard left hook to the body and was tagged with a few more punches as he was slumping to the canvas. Guerrero predicted he would take out Markov in three rounds and accomplished his goal with no room to spare. The official time was 3:00 of round three.

Coming off a five-year layoff, Vanessa Lepage-Joanisse, a stablemate of Alexandre Gaumont, advanced to 6-1 (2) with a unanimous 6-round decision of Hungary’s rugged but limited Timea Nagy (3-2). (Lepage-Joanisse suffered her lone defeat back in 2017 when she was stopped in the third round in Cancun, Mexico, by Alejandra Jiminez in a bout for the lightly-regarded WBC female heavyweight title. Jiminez, who faced allegations that she was born male, went on to claim the WBO super middleweight title with a split decision over Francine Crews-Dezurn but had the title stripped from her after testing positive for a banned substance. She has since retired. Lepage-Loanisse, who carried 231 pounds for Jiminez, trimmed down considerably since that match. She carried 178 ¾ for Nagy at yesterday’s weigh-in.)