May 2, 2008
By SHAWN COURCHESNE | Courant Staff Writer
Bulldog, a 120-pound robot, is a speed demon. His logo bears a checkered flag.
It will be a coming of age night for one local fighter and an evening to say goodbye for another June 13 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
Rising star Matt Remillard of Manchester will headline the “Connecticut Conquest” card at the Convention Center with a 10-round defense of his WBC youth featherweight title.
On an undercard full of Connecticut boxers, former title contender Israel “Pito” Cardona (36-9, 28 knockouts) will meet Jason Pires (20-3, 9 KOs) in a six-round welterweight contest. Cardona said Thursday that it will be his last fight.
The night will mark the first time Remillard (13-0, 7 KOs), who is scheduled to meet Jose Magallon (8-4, 3 KOs), will headline a card since turning pro in April 2005.
“When I was just an amateur, I’d hear about all the great fights here in Hartford from back in the day,” said Remillard, who turns 22 on June 12. “That’s always inspired me. It’s been so quiet here in the past few years that I think people have forgotten about it. For me, to headline a card in Hartford, it’s probably one of the biggest accomplishments of my career.”
Remillard said there are no lingering effects from the left wrist injury that kept him out of the ring from September 2006 until this past January.
“I’m not trying to rush into big fights and the paydays,” Remillard said. “Money isn’t a problem right now for me.
“I’ve been in the media’s eye since I was 13. To look at it that way, people probably think I’m a lot older. I’m 21. I’ve been pro since April 2005 and had a complete year off, so I’ve really only been pro for two years. … As long as I keep winning, I’ll get to where I need to be at the right time.”
Cardona, who lost to Paul Spadafora in his bid for the IBF lightweight championship in 1999, said the politics of boxing have chased him out. After nearly three years away from the sport, Cardona, 33, returned to the ring in March 2006, but has fought only five times since, losing his last three.
“I’ve got to be realistic about things,” Cardona said. “I’m not getting any help. Things aren’t working out for me. I can’t get the right backing, so why waste my time? I feel better than ever when it comes to my ability; I feel stronger, more confident. But when it comes down to it, my last two fights I had to go to somebody else’s backyard and fight in fights where everything was against me. … I’m not going to keep doing that.”
Also on the card: Hebron heavyweight Tony Grano (13-0-1, 11 KOs), Ledyard super middleweight Brian Macy (3-0, 1 KO), Hartford super middleweight Tylon Burris (1-0, 1 KO) and female junior welterweight Addy Irizarry (4-1, 2 KOs) from Hartford.