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Boxing / Editorial

Canadian Boxing Stars Shine at Mississauga's Hershey Centre

Lou Eisen / September 11, 2012 - 10:27am

With yet another superb performance in front of a wildly partisan crowd, Brandon Cook showed all those in attendance that he is indeed a force to be reckoned with in the super middleweight division.  Not since the days of Matthew Hilton has Canada produced a boxer with such a devastating body attack. Just like Hilton, Cook has very heavy hands and can knock out any man put in front of him with his devastating left hook to the liver. He is without a doubt the premiere body puncher in Canada today. His nickname is “Bad Boy,” but I posit that it should be changed to, “The Body Snatcher,” because of his ferocious body punches.  Cook is a technical marvel in the ring, doing every move perfectly, throwing each punch with precision, bad intentions and crippling power.

Cook’s overmatched Hungarian opponent, Ferenc Zold deserves credit for lasting three rounds considering the frightful beating he took while the fight lasted. Cook threw bone-rattling uppercuts mixed with crushing hooks, constantly rocking his foe’s head back as if it were a speed bag on a swivel. Within seconds of the bout’s beginning, Cook was pounding the bewildered Hungarian fighter into raw hamburger meat.

Although Zold’s record was as padded as his midsection, he tried his best, which just wasn’t nearly enough considering the vicious beating he was taking in each round. Every shot Cook landed, and there were hundreds, resonated loudly throughout the cavernous Hershey Centre, which was once again packed to the rafters. Cook has one-punch knockout power in both hands and it certainly showed as he got full leverage on every shot he crashed off of Zold’s ever reddening body. Cook pummeled Zold as if he owed him money. It is hard not to be enthusiastic when talking about Cook because you get the feeling when watching him that you are watching the beginning of a future champion in the making. Zold’s corner wisely threw in the towel, during the third round, saving their overmatched fighter from further brutal punishment.

Cook is a very clean, precise fighter, with excellent balance and a superb defense. The one thing he could improve upon is to throw his punches in combination rather than one heavy shot at a time. When Cook does learn to put his punches together in combination, he will be unbeatable. That is the frightening thing about him. He will get even better than he is now.  He did get caught with some good headshots during his bout but he walked right through them, shaking them off as if they were no more than a surface nuisance. Cook, just like Hilton, can wing a fighter and still hurt him.

Keep your eyes on Brandon Cook. He is one fighter who has title written all over him. Also on Saturday’s card was another star in the making, lightweight Steve Wilcox, a relative newcomer to the pro scene with a great boxing pedigree. Wilcox is a skilled young fighter with loads of potential. It also helps that his father Robert is one of the top boxing trainers in Canada. Wilcox fights out of his family-owned gym in Hamilton. Also, Wilcox has Canada’s all-time greatest lightweight, Hall of Famer, Billy “The Kid” Irwin n his corner. Irwin, formerly ranked number one in the world, was feared in the pro ranks for his vicious body punching ability. Irwin, always exceedingly friendly, modest and polite, said he was just helping Wilcox work on his body attack.

Well, judging by the manner in which Wilcox patiently broke down the very young Sandor Horvath, he is certainly on the right path. Wilcox showed poise in the ring and he displayed great accuracy with all of his shots. At times, Wilcox became over anxious and lunged with his punches, but his father’s reassuring voice could be heard from the corner admonishing him to calm down and do it right. Wilcox followed orders and dazzled the capacity crowd with a stunning display of hand speed. He adeptly switched his attack from the body to the head and back again seamlessly. Wilcox won by second round TKO when he trapped Horvath along the ropes and finished him off with a barrage of power shots to the body and head.

There are very few fighters in boxing today who truly love the sport as much as Canadian heavyweight Dillon Karman. Karman plays to the crowd and is really in his element when inside a boxing ring. He faced a relative newcomer to boxing in Montreal native Alain Kashama, who has only one pro fight to his credit. Kashama was a football player in both the CFL and the NFL.  He has virtually no boxing experience or skills to speak of and his lack of ability was clearly evident to all those in attendance.  This was really nothing more than a glorified sparring match. To pass this off as a professional boxing match was shameful to say the least.

After being released last year by the Calgary Stampeders, Kashama decided to give pro boxing a try. Kashama is trained by veteran boxing trainer Peter Wylie. Wylie, you may recall, was the man who trained Shawn O’Sullivan in both the amateur and the pro ranks. O’Sullivan was an outstanding world champion amateur boxer but very poorly suited to the pro ranks.

The word out of Wylie’s gym recently was that Kashama was not listening to instructions from Wylie and was intent on doing things his own way. What does that tell you? A person with no boxing experience to speak of telling an experienced trainer that he knows better is a recipe for disaster. Well, Kashama would be wise to listen to Wylie in the very near future, as he resembled a drunken sailor on shore leave more than he did a professional heavyweight boxer. Of course, that is not surprising considering he has only one dubious pro victory to his credit this past March.

Once again, this calls into question how on earth the Ontario Boxing Commission awarded a professional boxing license to a person who has no boxing skill to speak of? Is the only criterion for obtaining a professional boxing license filling out an application? Is OBC commissioner Ken Hayashi aware that a former football player with no boxing experience or pedigree actually obtained a license to fight professionally in Ontario twice? Does anyone vet fighter applications at the OBC?  Do they even care?

Kashama was off-balance throughout the fight. He spread his legs wide apart and then leaned over, with his left hand held low. He did manage to catch Karman with a few wild, looping punches but they were very few and far between. Karman takes a good rap on the chin although Kashama did nothing of relevance to earn his respect. Still, Karman showed maturity and excellent discipline in sticking to basics to defeat a hopeless and hapless Kashama.

The very first punch of the fight, a jab by Karman, landed on Kashama’s face and staggered the former footballer. It looked like we were in for a very short evening. Kashama managed to regain his composure temporarily. Kashama offered virtually no resistance to Karman. In fact, the Montreal native displayed no boxing skill whatsoever. Because he had none to speak of. This is not surprising since has no boxing experience in his background. He is another football player trying to become a boxer based solely on his size.  All he did was clinch Karman whenever Karman got close to him.

Karman decided enough was enough midway through the second round and just walked into Kashama and let his hands go and that was it. He dropped him with a hard hook to the head and then when Kashama arose, “Big Country” came in and finished him off. Kashama was basically defenseless at the time, when referee Mark Simmons waved the fight off, saving Kashama from an extended hospital stay. Surprisingly, after the fight, Wylie complained to the promoter and anyone who would listen that the fight should not have been stopped. Let’s go even a step farther than that. The fight should never have been made to begin with.  Kashama is a former football player with no affinity whatsoever for pro boxing. He does not belong in a boxing ring. Anyone with even a modicum of talent will wipe the floor with him. This is a ruse that should end now before Kashima gets in with a guy who will put his lights out for good.

We did a little background checking here at  Fight Network and we discovered that Kashama’s win came over, you guessed it, a Hungarian fighter with a 4 and 3 record. His win was by unanimous decision against someone even less skilled than him. In fact, his opponent, Hungarian Istvan Ruzsinszky, had only one draw when he faced Kashama.  Dillon Karman, on the other hand, is always a lot of fun to watch. This time he was in very good shape, focused and did not waste a single punch. Karman keeps improving with each passing fight. He has a bright future ahead of him. His outgoing personality and natural charisma make him tailor made for fame. Hopefully next time he will face an actual boxer rather than late training camp cut by the Calgary Stampeders.

Welterweight Junmar Emon displayed guts, gore and grit while pounding out a unanimous decision over Truro, Nova Scotia’s Ryan McGrady.  Early in the fight, Emon caught McGrady with a short, overhand left, opening a cut over McGrady’s eye, which bled continually throughout the fight. In the next round, McGrady came up from a crouch and caught Emon on the nose with his head, opening up a huge cut, which Emon’s corner was unable to stop. Ringsiders were rather surprised that neither corner seemed to be equipped with a professional and experienced cutman to help staunch the flow of blood.  Ontario should make cut men mandatory in each fight. Although Emon’s cut was ruled to have been caused by a punch, it was clearly a head butt. Emon fought through the blood and gore to earn a unanimous decision.

At one point, in between rounds, Emon, while heading back to his corner, stuck his tongue out to taste his own blood, drawing a loud roar from the crowd. McGrady never seemed comfortable in the ring. He did his best and showed decent boxing skills but was handicapped almost from the start of the fight with that bad cut over his left eye. Emon did a workman like job, admirably fighting through the horrible cut on the bridge of his nose, scoring often and with both hands. His victory was well earned.

Another fan favorite Tebor Brosch was coming back after an extended layoff due to injuries he received from a motorcycle accident.  Brosch showed plenty of zeal as well as a lot of ring rust, which was to be expected. His opponent was Hungarian Gyorgy Mizsei, who boxed well enough at times to keep Brosch at bay. Brosch forced the action throughout the fight, which was marred at times by excessive holding.  Mizsei, a tall and lanky fighter, moved side to side, slipped shots and did everything he could to avoid getting into a phone booth war with Brosch. Mizsei caught Brosch with several sharp shots during the fight, which had little to no effect on the hometown fighter.

Brosch tried his best to cut off the ring and land bombs on his Hungarian foe but was stymied time and again by ring rust and his opponent’s irritating holding tactics. A strong case could have been made for disqualifying Mizsei for excessive holding. Brosch came out ahead with a unanimous decision victory.

Four-time Canadian amateur champion in the 109 lb. division, Jacqueline Park, made her pro debut a successful one by scoring a unanimous decision over Hamilton’s Amanda Beaudin.  Park displayed a wealth of boxing skills, keeping Beaudin constantly off-balance and out of range with her stiff left jab. Park always followed up her jabs with straight right hands, which scored well for her throughout the match. Park showed excellent footwork by constantly turning Beaudin, and never allowing her to get set long enough to launch a sustained attack. Based on her ring debut, and outstanding amateur career experience, Park will only get better with each successive performance.

The combined successes of all of the Canadian fighters that fought at the Hershey Centre on September 8th, shows that despite dire warnings to the contrary, Canadian boxing is in very good shape and there is a wealth of excellent up and coming fight talent in Ontario. The only concern here of course is for the welfare of each of these young fighters once they face truly competitive fighters. Let’s be honest here. Yes, the fights were very exciting. However, outside of the feature bout, very few of the undercard fights were truly competitive. Four of the undercard matches featured Hungarian fighters who were there primarily to take a beating. Professional boxers don’t learn anything by easily winning mismatches, even though they were very entertaining. There needs to be more monitoring of fighters who fight in this province from other countries.

That is not to say that the Canadian fighters on the card didn’t look great. They all did and they all displayed varying levels of limitless talent. Building a fighter’s career is not an easy thing, especially in Canada. Some fighters are lucky in that regard, such as Steve Wilcox, who is being groomed expertly by his father Robert. Wilcox has been matched with successively better fighters in each of his three fights.  His father is an experienced and highly regarded boxing trainer. There is no doubt that Wilcox, given his youth and his father’s wisdom, will go a long way. His father is bringing him along slowly and matching him well. Robert Wilcox has earned a very deserving reputation as a gifted and extremely knowledgeable boxing trainer. The same can be said for Brandon Cook and Dillon Karman. They are very early in their careers. There will be time enough for better competition down the road.

On the other hand, Alain Kashima, for instance, is in no way worthy of a professional boxing license.  His boxing skills were almost entirely non-existent. Amanda Beaudin tried her best, and although energetic, did not look to be a professional fighter in any way, shape or form. She tried her best but looked very amateurish, swinging wildly, albeit against a highly decorated and skilled opponent in Jacqueline Park.  Brandon Cook’s opponent was noticeably flabby and out of shape. So am I, but I am not a professional boxer. Mind you, Cook has been magnificent against all of his hapless opponents. I understand that it is always very difficult to find suitable opponents for young Canadian prospects. However, fighters only improve when the level of their competition increases with each successive fight.  Allowing human punching bags to come in from Hungary, or any country for that matter, just to receive punishment and nothing more is rather disingenuous to say the least.  Yes, once again, the bouts were exciting, but they were in no way competitive.

If any of the Canadian fighters who won their bouts at the Hershey Centre on September 8th wishes to go beyond being a local sensation, they will have to gradually increase the level of their ring adversaries in order to improve their own boxing skills. They all have the talent to do so, and it would serve them well to show them opponents with different styles so they learn how to adjust their respective ring skills on the fly whenever the situation calls for it. They won’t always being facing guys willing to just stand there and get hit. The hope is that when they do come up against skilled foes they will know how to make the necessary adjustments in order to achieve victory.

All of the Canadian pugilists on the card at the Hershey Centre are quite young in age as well as in boxing experience. They are at this stage in their careers gaining valuable ring experience. They have already proven they know how to beat a stationary opponent. What happens when they face slick boxers (or southpaws) with educated feet and ring smarts that will simply refuse to stand there and be hit?  It is better they learn those lessons now on the way up rather than in a title fight with everything on the line. Then again, if things don’t go according to plan, they can always find jobs with the Calgary Stampeders.

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