At one point in the second round of his fight Saturday evening at Casal’s Boxing Club, Niagara Falls native Elijah Austin looked like he might lose, or worse, be knocked out.
Any speculation of a loss ended quickly in the third round, as Austin roared to life and sent his opponent to the canvas with a lightning-bolt right hook, drawing the loudest cheers of the night from the sold-out crowd on hand for Fight Night X.
For Austin, who fights out of Casal’s and was awarded “Fighter of the Night,” the bout went exactly as planned.
“He was dropping his left hand a little bit and I just came in,” he said, describing the knock-out blow.
Austin started the fight against Canada's Morgan McGee by asserting his power, landing several power shots with a loud thud. After Austin scored a knockdown in the first, he stalked McGee, and appeared to win the round handedly. McGee came on in the second, and appeared to hurt Austin at one point. Austin, who received a standing-eight count in the round, said he let McGree hit him a few times to let him get his confidence up.
“He was sort of jumping back a little bit, so I wanted to give him like a little bit of confidence,” he said. “So like, I let him hit me a little bit.”
Austin charged out in the third and re-established his dominance in the fight, quickly sending McGee to the canvas with the right hook. McGee tried to beat the count, but was clearly out on his feet, and was attended to by the ringside physician for several minutes after the fight.
“I don’t get too cocky,” Austin said. “I have quite a few stoppages now, and this is another one to add to it.”
Nico Cirrito, who also fights out of Casal’s, made his return to the ring after a 14-month hiatus, taking on Buffalo’s Griffin Tolsma. Awarded the “Fight of the Night,” Cirrito shook off any ring-rust early and came out with the victory.
Both fighters exchanged combinations in the first round, their skill and boxing ability coming through. Cirrito, who’s fought Tolsma before, was a bit surprised the first time Tolsma hit him in the fight.
“He's a lot stronger than the last time we fought,” Cirrito said, noting that he had to shake off the punches, as he hadn’t been hit like that in over a year.
The second went much as the first, with both fighters exchanging blows. In the third round, Cirrito saw an opening for his left hook and found a home for it, landing several in the round to secure the victory.
“He moved his hand just a little bit,” he said. “My left hook is always what I go to. Anyone who knows me knows I’m going to throw it. I wasn't throwing it a whole lot in the beginning. So I was just trying to calm down in between rounds and think, what am I not doing? And you know, I tried a few times and it was landing almost every time so I stuck to it.”
While winning in front of the home crowd was nice, it was also the first time he fought in front of his son, adding special meaning to the victory.
“It felt great,” he said. “It just felt good to go pick him up after the fight.”
Josh Perez also won his fight, turning in a workman-like effort to defeat his opponent, Canadian national champion Justin Parina. Perez used ring generalship to control the fight and steadily moved in on his opponent, landing multiple punches, counters and combinations.
Casey Costanzo, Mike Vega and Nolan Smith — other Casal's fighters — lost their bouts, while Scott Bovanizer won.