Femke Hermans (MD 10) and Erik Bazinyan (TKO 6) Bring Home the Bacon in Montreal


By Arne K. Lang

Camille Estephan’s Eye of the Tiger Promotions was at its usual stomping grounds tonight at the Montreal Casino with a card that aired in the United States on ESPN+. Estephan’s undefeated and highly rated super middleweight Erik Bazinyan appeared on the card, but tonight Bazinyan played second fiddle to Mary Spencer whose rematch with Femke Hermans got top billing. At stake for Spencer and Hermans was the IBF world female 154-pound title vacated by Natasha Jonas who moved down a weight.

Mary Spencer, an Indigenous Canadian on her father’s side, was Canada’s most decorated female amateur boxer. Before turning pro, she was a three-time world champion. But she’s now 38 years old and waited too long to make the switch to the pro game.

Spencer and Femke Hermans first met on Dec. 16 of last year in Shawinigan, Quebec. Hermans, a warehouse supervisor in Belgium, won a clear-cut decision, a major upset as Spencer was 7-0 with 5 KOs entering that contest and hadn’t lost a round since leaving the amateur ranks. Since that fight, Hermans (17-4) scored two more wins in Belgium while Spencer had a fight in June fall out when she suffered a back injury.

Tonight’s bout was closer than the first meeting, but two of the judges got it right. They favored Hermans by margins of 97-93 and 96-94. The third member of their crew scored it a draw (95-95). The 33-year-old Hermans was the busier fighter and landed more punches in a match that truthfully had no indelible moments. After coming up short in world title fights at 168 and 1960, the third time was a charm for Hermans.

Baziniyan – Ellis

Erik Bazinyan won his previous two fights to retain his undefeated record, but encountered adversity in both encounters in bouts he was expected to win handily. As a result, he was nicked down a notch in the super middleweight ratings. He entered tonight’s bout with Ronald Ellis ranked #3 by the WBC, WBA, and IBF; #5 by the WBO.

A member of the National Team in Armenia before moving with his parents to Quebec at age 16, Bazinyan rebounded from those two sub-par showings with one big punch, a chopping right hand that brought a sudden conclusion to a match that was seemingly headed to the scorecards. Ellis, one of three fighting siblings in a prominent Massachusetts boxing family, went down flat on his back. He beat the count, but his eyes were glassy and the referee waived it off. The official time was 1:44 of round six.

Bazinyan improved to 31-0 (21 KOs). It was the third straight defeat for Ellis (18-4-2) who had been out of the ring for 22 months but had kept his hand in the game as a sparring partner for Canelo Alvarez.


In another bout of note, Camille Estephan’s newest signee, light heavyweight Imam Khataev, scored a third-round stoppage of sacrificial lamb David Benitez, a 29-year-old Argentine import.

A 29-year-old Russian whose primary residence is in Sydney, Australia, the five-foot-ten Khataev (4-0, 4 KOs) is built like a rock, inviting comparisons to Mike Tyson. During his deep amateur career, he scored victories over Cuban stalwarts Julio Cesar la Cruz and Arlen Lopez and won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Benitez (9-9) was in a survival mode from the opening gun and was knocked down twice before the match was stopped at the 2:30 mark of round three.

In Imam Khataev, Estephan has seemingly found his heir-apparent to his bell cow Artur Beterbiev.