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Each Nation’s Best: Canada

By Derek Bonnett

Canada is the world’s second largest country in terms of land area and extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean from east to west. Its name likely derives from the Iroquois word “kanata”, which means “village” or “settlement”. Canada and the United States share the world’s longest undefended border, but if the Canadians are to enhance their reputation in the boxing world an invasion of US territory is highly recommended. Las Vegas or Atlantic City would be recommended target sites for pugilistic progress.

Canada’s boxing history isn’t a glorious one, but a number recognizable fighters and world champions called this nation home even if they weren’t homegrown. One such fighter was welterweight world champion Jimmy McClarnin of Ireland, who defeated such fighters as flyweight great Pancho Villa and welterweight champion Barney Ross throughout a celebrated career. The late Trevor Berbick of Jamaica also adopted Canada as his home and is best known for giving Mike Tyson his first world championship. Currently reigning WBA junior middleweight champion Joachim Alcine is Haitian-born, but now resides in Quebec. Super middleweight champion Lucian Bute of Romania does the same.

Canada is not without its natural born world champions. Many forget that the exciting Arturo Gatti was actually born in Montreal in 1972 before adopting Jersey City, NJ as his home. Donnie Lalonde held a portion of the light heavyweight crown for a year before surrendering it in a game effort against Sugar Ray Leonard in a highly publicized bout. Eric Lucas managed a credible reign as a super middleweight titlist from 2001-2003. Hall of Famer Lou Brouillard, who defeated both McClarnin and Mickey Walker, gave his nation a lot to be proud of during the 1930’s. As did Tommy Burns for breaking the color barrier in the sport of boxing by granting Jack Johnson an infamous shot at the title in 1908.

So, where does Canada fall on the map that is professional boxing? Well, let’s just say the future holds some good possibilities in both the lower and middle weights. Here are four of the best fighters Canada has to offer today.

4). Antonin Decarie is the least experienced fighter on this list and the welterweight’s name could be interchanged with a couple of other up and coming prospects, but his 19-0 (5) record seemed the most impressive. The unbeaten orthodox fighter is twenty-five and hails from Quebec. He has also fought on U.S. soil once early in his career.

In his last two bouts, Decarie has stepped things up a notch. He has posted 2008 victories over former world rated lightweight Israel “Pito” Cardona and fellow unbeaten prospect Ray Camechis proving he can overcome both experience and the will of a hungry unbeaten fighter. The Camechis bout was for the WBO NABO welterweight title, so this should help get the attention of the major sanctioning bodies.

With two bouts in 2008 and a #12 WBO ranking, Decarie is on the right path for something bigger. A third bout has yet be set, but a match-up with fellow prospect Delvin Rodriguez or come-backing Paul Spadafora would be beneficial to building Decarie’s resume.

3). Olivier Lontchi is an unbeaten super bantamweight with a professional mark of 16-0-1 (6). The only blemish for the orthodox fighter came in his professional debut when he drew with a winless combatant by the name of Dave Drouin. The draw was avenged the following year by TKO in the fourth.

After seven bouts, Lontchi defeated the more experienced Jason Adams by TKO in the ninth to become the Canadian champion at featherweight. Lontchi has done his best work at around 120 pounds, but has come in as high as 134 pounds. In his most defining bout to date, Lontchi won a pair of minor alphabet trinkets with a comprehensive twelve round decision victory over the greatly experienced, and formidable puncher, Cruz Carbajal in 2007. Lontchi is ranked #22 by the WBC and ninth by the WBA.

Lontchi has won twice in 2008, but needs to get back to facing opponents more like Carbajal. Having never fought outside of Canada, Lontchi’s name is not well known past its borders. Two excellent choices for Lontchi would be Rendall Munroe of the UK or Reynaldo Lopez of Colombia. Munroe recently took Kiko Martinez’ unbeaten record and Lopez recently shattered Mike Oliver’s.

2). Sebastien “Double Trouble” Demers is an orthodox fighter campaigning in the middleweight division. In four years as a professional, Demers has compiled a record of 25-1 (9). The lone defeat came five fights back in an attempt at Arthur Abraham’s middleweight title. Demers was stopped inside of three rounds.

Overall, Demers has faced solid opposition as a contender and only failed to the second best fighter in the division. Double Trouble owns wins over experienced veterans and fringe contenders like Ian MacKillop (3), Elio Ortiz, Mamadou Thiam, Walid Smichet, and Matt Vanda. He currently holds a #14 ranking by the WBA and stands at #20 in the eyes of the WBC.

Demers, 28, has kept busy this year and has his fourth bout scheduled for July 11 in Quebec, but no opponent has been named. Bouts with Daniel Geale of Australia or Enrique Ornelas of Mexico would keep Demers on pace with his fellow contenders and put him in better line for a second shot at the title.

1). Steve “The Canadian Kid” Molitor is one of three current world champions based in Canada, but he is the only one born there. The Toronto based southpaw is 27-0 (10) as a professional and has held the IBF super bantamweight crown since 2006. One trainer who tried to devise a plan to defeat Molitor said it was a difficult task because Molitor had no discernable flaws.

Since becoming a world champion by stopping Michael Hunter in five rounds, the twenty-eight year old has notched four successful defenses against rated opposition. Takalani Ndlovu was stopped in nine rounds while Fahsan 3K Battery, Ricardo Castillo, and Fernando Beltran Jr. were all out-pointed in lopsided fashion. Molitor’s name should begin surfacing during P4P debates.

Molitor’s team has warned the boxing world that his march to the top of the division will advance aggressively in 2008 and he already has two victories. Molitor has taken on new trainer Stephan Larouche, who also works with Lucian Bute, and has been rumored to be discussing unification with Celestino Caballero for later this year.

The Canadian boxing scene is looking pretty good right now. When you add fighters like Herman Ngoudjo, Adrian Diacanu, and Jean Pascal, who now call Canada home as well, this nation’s place in the current state of the game cannot be underestimated.

June 24, 2008

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