Five, Five, & Five: Boxing In Canada




1. Sam Langford: Arguably best fighter to never have secured a title shot. Stood only 5-foot-8, but rumbled with bigger men such as legends Jack Johnson and Harry Wills. Born in Nova Scotia, and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts as child.

2. George Dixon: First black world champion (crowned in 1890) and one of greatest featherweights in history. He’s reported to have invented shadowboxing.

3. George Chuvalo: Might’ve been toughest heavyweight ever; was never floored in 93 bouts. Fought Ali (twice), as well as Foreman, Frazier, Patterson (1965’s Fight of Year), Quarry, Bonavena and Ellis, among others.

4. Lou Brouillard: Southpaw powerpuncher from Quebec reigned as world welter and middle champion in ’30s. Faced all-time greats Mickey Walker and Jimmy McLarnin, among others.

5. Jack Delaney: Was world light heavy champ during first golden era of 175-pound class. Beat all-time great Paul Berlenbach three of four. Never defended title, instead moved up to heavyweight.


Roberto Duran W 15 Sugar Ray Leonard, June 20, 1980, Olympic Stadium, Montreal: Both one of most anticipated and best fights in history. Crowd of 46,317 braves rain to watch Duran win welterweight title.

Archie Moore KO 11 Yvon Durelle, December 10, 1956, The Forum, Montreal: Universally listed as one of five best fights in history. Defending light heavyweight champ Moore goes down three times in first round and again in fifth; Durelle, fisherman from New Brunswick, is dropped four times total.

Bernard Hopkins W 12 Jean Pascal, May 21, 2011, Bell Centre, Montreal: Amazing BHop, age 46, becomes oldest fighter ever to win world title (light heavyweight). He had fought to a draw with Pascal five months earlier.

Matthew Hilton W 15 Buster Drayton, June 27, 1987, The Forum, Montreal: Big-punching Hilton becomes first world titlist from Montreal in 44 years. Sellout crowd reacts as if Canadiens had won Stanley Cup.

Lucien Bute W 12 Librado Andrade, October 24, 2008, Bell Centre, Montreal: Controversy in Canada: Bute retains super middle title, but only after suffering devastating knockdown in final five seconds of last round and benefiting from extended count.


I GUESS BUCHAREST WAS UNAVAILABLE: Just curious, but why, in 1983, did light heavyweight titlist Michael Spinks of St. Louis defend against Peruvian contender Oscar Rivadeneyra in Vancouver? Anyway, 5,000 fans attended at Pacific Coliseum, and after knocking out the challenger, Spinks called out middleweight king Marvin Hagler. That fight, of course, never happened.

WHERE DID YOU SAY YOU WERE FROM AGAIN?: England-born Lennox Lewis won an Olympic gold medal for Canada in 1988, but fought Up North only twice as a pro. Arturo Gatti, born in Italy and raised in Montreal, fought in Canada only once as a pro.

Among other fighters associated with Canada who were born elsewhere: Razor Ruddock (Jamaica), Jimmy McLarnin (Ireland), Lucien Bute and Leo Dorin (Romania), and Adonis Stevenson and Jean Pascal (Haiti).

THE MOST CANADIAN OF THEM ALL: George Chuvalo always came home. Although he fought majority of big bouts in the USA, Chuvalo faced Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis and Muhammad Ali in Toronto, and also fought Ali in Vancouver.

HIGH HOPES, BIG BUSTS: The disappointment began at 1984 Olympics, where heavyweight Willie deWit and light middleweight Shawn O’Sullivan, both of whom had been world amateur champions for Canada, came home with “only” silver medals.

As pros, they were major busts. deWit lost only once, by crushing kayo to Bert Cooper in 1987, but never contended. His record: 21-1-1.

He became a criminal attorney.

Nicknamed “The Cabbagetown Kid,” O’Sullivan was stopped by Simon Brown in 1986, and also never contended. He finished at 23-5.

LEGAL RIGHTS AND LEFTS: In 1913, Ontario’s Arthur Pelkey won the White Heavyweight Championship (yes, during Jack Johnson’s reign, there really was such a title) in Calgary by knocking out Luther McCarty in the first round. McCarty died in the ring and Pelkey was arrested and charged with murder by the Northwest Mounted Police. He was released a few days later.

Pelkey fought 15 more times and lost 12 of those bouts by kayo.

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