Recently the City of Toronto voted in a new Mayor. In the wake of the election, and in their fervor to demonstrate pride in the outcome, a large turnout gathered downtown at Queen’s Park to show their support, at Mayor-Elect Rob Ford’s victory celebration, with some even taking the opportunity to speak with the media in attendance about the new sense of hope they had and the perceived positive new direction that in effect was a long time coming. As one might expect the Canadian flag intermittently punctuated the immediate landscape, with many waving it as a demonstration of pride in their country’s most recent act of democracy. The next day there were some in the media that took issue with the fact that the flag had made its appearance at the rally under the pretenses that it offended the sensibilities of immigrants, ignoring the fact that the Mayor-Elect’s victory was largely fueled by the votes of immigrants. As ridiculous as that accusation came off in the local media, the backlash from the general public served to underline what was actually behind having the flag play a part in the rally; national pride.
Over the last four years I’ve had a lot to be proud of as a Canadian relative to the fight game. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs, but overall I believe Canada has flourished and that we are doing better now than just about at any point over the last half century. In fact, aside from having a handful of world champions among our ranks, there are some notable talent with great upside and potential waiting in the wings, as well as a pending mega-fight which in fact is a major Montreal cross-town rivalry, elements leading up to the biggest and most important boxing event in all of Canadian boxing history. For the purposes of this article, I have taken the liberty of listing a number of talented fighters that look to make their mark in the sport. Some of them are current world champions, others contenders and up and comers looking to climb the mountain. And none of them are named Mayweather or Pacquiao. For boxing in Canada, as with the sport overall, there really is much to look forward to and much to be proud of.
Lucian Bute 27-0, 22 KO’s
There’s a reason southpaw “Le Tombeur” has been champion for three years. His exceptional focus, skill set and ring generalship aside, his sweeping left cross lands with the power of a ball-peen hammer. Standing an imposing 6’2, the undefeated southpaw won the IBF Super Middleweight Title in October 2007 with decisive eleventh-round technical knockout over the kill or be killed warrior Alejandro Berrio. As of this writing he has successfully defended his title six times and is poised to move up to the light heavyweight division for a pivotal all-Montreal mega-fight with cross-town rival Jean Pascal, the WBC and Ring Magazine light heavyweight champion.
Jean Pascal 26-1, 16 KO’s
What can I say? Sometimes these guys surprise you, and then just when you figure you’ve got a handle on them, they turn around and surprise you again, and again. I’ve been big on this guy for years. In many ways he reminds me of a younger Roy Jones JR. He proved his stuff in a tough 2008 loss to Carl Froch for the WBC super middleweight title. He rebounded in 2009 by winning the WBC light heavyweight title, then shocked many by roughing-up then-undefeated “Bad” Chad Dawson, handing him his first loss despite being the decided underdog going into the bout. Currently scheduled to face former two-division champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins in December, a win will catapult Pascal into an all-Montreal super fight with IBF super middleweight champion and cross-town rival, the undefeated Lucian Bute.
Steve Molitor 33-1, 12 KO’s
In the fall of 2008 “The Canadian Kid” had been the IBF super bantamweight champion for two years with five title defenses under his belt. A high stakes unification clash with WBA Super World bantamweight champion Celestino Caballero proved disastrous. Molitor was stopped in four rounds and doubt was cast upon a career that once had nothing but upside. In his five ring assignments since that blip on the radar, Molitor has at-times struggled to regain the confidence and form he had back during his reign in 2006-2008, but not only has he managed to overcome the doubts and the demons, he’s once again become a world champion, regaining the IBF title earlier this year.
Jeannine Garside 10-3-1, 4 KO’s
A rising star in women’s boxing Garside has made her presence felt in the professional ranks after a long and distinguished amateur career. Having handed the 26-0 Ina Menzer her first professional loss, the less experienced British Columbia southpaw not only managed to become the WBC, WBO and WIBF female featherweight champion, she’s positioned herself among the elite women fighters around the world.
Olivia Gerula 13-10-2, 3 KO’s
Promoters acknowledge “The Predator” as an aggressive, exciting fighter with good stamina. Known for accepting challenges other, more experienced fighters turn down, Gerula put it all together in April 2009 winning the WBC Female super featherweight title against the far more experienced Jelena Mrdjenovich. Having successfully defended her title twice, a late-November defense against the undefeated Frida Wallberg looms. A potential showdown with WBC, WBO and WIBF female featherweight champion Jeannine Garside in 2011 would present compelling possibilities.
Troy Ross 24-2, 16 KO’s
Hailing from Brampton, Ontario, Canada’s cruiserweight hopeful made waves with a high-profile dramatic fourth-round knockout over Hino Ehikhamenor to win him “The Contender” season four championship. Standing 5’11, the chiseled southpaw has demonstrated the type of poise, power of fluidity necessary to take him to a major world title. A June 2010 shot for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title against former titlist Steve Cunningham had mixed results. He lost via TKO in round 5 due to a cut, but not before fighting on even terms and dropping the seasoned American in round 4, an exceptional fighter that had previously held the IBF title on two prior occasions. At press time Ross was scheduled to embark on a comeback with a return-to-duty ten-rounder at Casino Rama in Ontario.
David Lemieux 25-0, 24 KO’s
Just a shade over 5’10 and with a short reach, the orthodox-stance Montreal-based upstart typically leaves his corner in top gear after the first bell, usually ending matters sometime before round two comes to a close. His punches are short and compact, his delivery crisp and usually on the mark. His left hook is delivered in textbook fashion with a particular snap, making it a devastating thing of beauty. In his last start he devastated the usually reliable Elvin Ayala in less than one round, a feat that took Arthur Abraham over eleven rounds. For me, everything they ever wrote about Kelly Pavlik, relative to his power, I see in Lemieux, only with the added drama of an explosive lightning flash. Expect big things from this guy.