Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Wilson boxer Austin Bryant isn’t wasting much time stewing in the aftermath of his first professional loss.
Eight days after dropping a majority decision to Hafiz Montgomery for the vacant World Boxing Foundation North American Regional Title, Bryant revealed in a phone interview Friday afternoon that he intends to relocate to the Philadelphia area to train and further his career. The move for the Hunt High product is expected to take place within the next two weeks.
Bryant, now 4-1 as a pro, had won his first four bouts via knockout. But the 36-year-old Montgomery (4-1), originally scheduled to face Bryant in October at Recreation Park Community Center, took the 20-year-old to the scorecards for the first time in his young career. One judge’s card had the fight tabbed as a draw, but the other two put Montgomery in front, giving him the victory at Top Catz Boxing’s “Durham Fight Night” from the Durham Armory.
“I learned to cope with it because I’d rather it happen early in my career than later,” Bryant said of his loss. “Because I couldn’t get focused. I couldn’t get on my game. I just couldn’t get off that night. It’s part of being young and my mentality of being young, I just couldn’t get off. I think it has a lot to do with me being young and inexperienced. Because, I’m still a baby basically. But I’d rather have it happen now than later, for sure.”
Despite the close outcome of the co-main event, Bryant didn’t question the assessment of the judges.
“I make no excuses,” he said. “I don’t feel like I won the fight. (Montgomery) did fairly win it. If I had won that fight, the judges would have just been on my side. But I like to play by the rules, and he did beat me.”
The transformation of Bryant’s mental game — his “get off” — will now take him to the City of Brotherly Love. Bryant said he intends to sign a contract in the coming days.
“I’ve gone just about as far as I can in North Carolina,” Bryant said. “Philly, it’s a big step up for me as far as training wise and dedication wise. Like I said, I’ve gone as far as I can go in North Carolina.”
As Bryant departs North Carolina, Top Catz Boxing, the company founded by his stepfather, Tony Meeks, suddenly finds itself in a sea of turmoil after three shows.
Three prominent associates of the Wilson-based company have left in recent months.
Russell Peltz, a 2004 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was a matchmaker and advisor for Top Catz. He declined to continue with the organization following the first “Thursday Night Fights” card in Durham on April 27.
Peltz protege Michelle Rosado, who was initially brought on to serve as director of operations for Top Catz, also worked her final Top Catz show in April. Rosado, a Philadelphia native and boxing personality, had no involvement with the June 22 card in Durham.
“Following our two shows together, it became clear to me that our business practices and ethics didn’t mesh well. At that point, I decided to move on and wish them — and most importantly all the boxers involved — all the best,” Rosado said via email Friday.
Meeks said he wished to keep Peltz on board but knew it would be difficult without Rosado.
“We had Michelle Rosado and Russell Peltz,” Meeks said. “I wanted to keep Russell, but he and Michelle were tight and I let Michelle go on peaceful terms.”
Also out at Top Catz is media relations official Chris Williams, who worked the June 22 show. In an email to the Times on Friday, Williams said that he had yet to be paid for services rendered related to the June 22 show. Williams said that he staffed “90 percent” of the workers and was left to tell individuals they would not be paid or checks already distributed would bounce.
As far as the June 22 payroll, Meeks said Friday that it was in the closing stages.
“About everybody’s paid but a few people,” Meeks said. “And I’d say about three. When you’re looking at a $35,000 fight, and things don’t work out like they’re supposed to, you got to do what you got to do. I stand by my word and I’ll do what I do to make sure everybody’s cleared and happy. That’s what I’ve got to do as a man, and that’s what I’ve got to do as a businessman. But all I have is my word. That’s all I’ve got. It might take a little time to do it, but if it’s done, then I’ve kept to my word.”
Meeks said Friday he was waiting on official attendance figures from North Carolina Boxing Authority before announcing a head count. No date for the next Top Catz show has been set.
“There are a lot of fights on the card for North Carolina the next couple of months,” Meeks said. “So we’re not interested in trying to come in on top of everybody else when there’s one every other week. I’m not trying to battle for people in the seats; I’ll just wait. And if we do anything, it might be October or December.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | 265-7807 | Twitter: @JimmyLewisWT