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Firtha upsets Grano!

Report by: Alex Dombroff
Photography By: Emily Harney

Nicolai “Stone Man” Firtha has made a habit of fighting notable heavyweights. On his record are names of several notable heavyweights, along with countless other ranked contenders with whom he’s shared sparring sessions.

Until stepping in with Tony “TNT” Grano Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, winning was never part of the equation.

In against Grano, Firtha (19-7-1, 9 KOs) was forceful, sending Grano, of nearby Hebron, CT, in the closing moments of the first round and again in round two, before a flurry of punches forced referee Dick Flahrety to intervene.

Grano (17-2-1, 14 KOs) was coming off unquestionably the two biggest wins of his career. Last September, making his national TV debut, Grano knocked out the previously unbeaten Travis Kauffman in four rounds. In March, Grano avenged the lone loss of his career by decisioning Mark Brown over ten rounds.

Firtha, on the other hand, had lost three of his last four, including a knockout at the hands of fringe contenders Tye Fields and Manuel Quezada. However, against Grano, he knew his fate would be different from the early going.

“I knew I was going to knock him out in the first round. I was digging to the body to set him up,” said Firtha. “I came with an overhand right and bam, I got him with all of it.”

That right hand set up the first knockdown, from which Grano never recovered.

Firtha relentlessly went after Grano from the opening bell in round two and, for the most part, found a welcome target. Grano, who was trying to mount a dramatic comeback much like he did against Kauffman, went down against approximately 90 seconds into the round from an accumulation of punches.

Grano arose, but another series of right hands left him limp against the ropes, forcing the referee jump in and halt the action.

The Firtha-Grano bout was the ten-round main event for the “Pride & Power” show presented by promoter Jimmy Burchfield of Classic Entertainment and Sports



For the second time in three months, Hartford super bantamweight Mike Oliver kept on the road back to contention with a win over a faded former world title holder. In March, the victim was Kermin Guardia, the former strawweight and junior flyweight titlist.  Saturday night, it was 38 year old Mauricio Pastrana, loser of seven of his last eight fights dating back to 2007.

Against Oliver (24-2, 8 KOs), Pastrana showed his age by giving himself his only chance to be effective with illegal tactics. In the sixth, Pastrana (35-14-2, 23 KOs) lost a point for holding and hitting. In the seventh, the former champion was again docked, this time for throwing Oliver to the ground. Finally, in the eighth and final round, Pastrana was disqualified for twisting Oliver’s arm in an attempt to break, or severely injure, it.

“He was more like a football player than a fighter,” Oliver said.


Jr welterweight Frank Trader won for the seventh straight time with a four round decision over the uninterested Noel Garcia. Trader (7-0, 2 KOs) simply kept his hands moving, which was more than enough to keep Garcia (2-4-1, 1 KO) backtracking and in a defensive posture.

For the first time in his career, Joe Smith, Jr. heard the bell for the second round, but he still kept his knockout streak going, taking care of Walter Foster in two rounds during a light heavyweight contest. Smith (5-0, 5 KOs) had finished all four of his previous opponents in the first round, and he almost did the same to Foster, pounding him against the ropes and receiving nothing in return. It was much of the same in round two until Foster finally hit the deck for good at 1:39 of the round.

Luis Rosa used four rounds of solid body work to break down John Passantino, stopping him with just moments left in a featherweight four rounder. Rosa (3-0, 2 KOs) was relentless in backing up his opponent, but the pro-debuting Passantino was game, coming forward the whole fight until succumbing to the accumulation of landed blows.

The brother of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, Ricky Dawson (2-0, 1 KO), took to the ring for the second time in his career, winning a four round decision over Jeremiah Jones (1-4-1) in a super middleweight encounter.

Announced as a three time New England Golden Gloves champion, Jonathan Vasquez made a successful pro debut with a first round knockout over Carlos Hernandez (0-2) in a welterweight bout.


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