Niagara Gazette


August 4, 2013

Tonawanda's Piccolo in fight of his life


Niagara Gazette — "It's something I like to do and something I'm good at," he said. "There's a lot of things I got in the cage that you can't coach and you can't learn. I probably have more heart than a lot of the guys out there — and then just the will to win, you know. I didn't tell nobody for the longest time that I had cancer. I'm going out there with Stage IV cancer and not only competing, but winning. That takes a lot to get in there and do that."

He's fought three times since his wedding day throwdown, even managing a win via majority decision in March, a little more than a month after starting treatment.

He fought again in May, but by then the cancer had started to take hold of Piccolo, like an unforgiving, tight triangle choke. He started to shed weight and now has dropped 50 pounds. Tumors have spread to his liver and lymph nodes, and the main tumor sits right on the esophagus, blocking his food passage and making it almost impossible for him to eat solid foods.

On July 20 Piccolo was set to fight for his first-ever MMA title belt at the Florida Fight Foundation's Cage Wars — it would have been his fourth fight since finding out he had nine months to live. But the week prior to the bout he started a brutal and aggressive chemotherapy treatment that required him to wear a pump all the time for seven straight days in an effort to shrink the main tumor enough to allow some solid foods to pass through.

The tougher regimen took a toll on Piccolo. Most days he spent laying around on the couch trying to get his strength back — battling cold sweats and a complete energy depletion. He said one of the hardest parts of the ordeal has been dealing with the physical limitations, but nothing is as difficult as preparing his family for what's to come.

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