Mississauga, Ont. — Logan Cotton McGuinness started slow but finished strong.
In what was billed as the battle of Ontario versus Quebec, the pride of Orangeville knocked out provincial-rival Benoit Gaudet at the Hershey Centre on Saturday night for the vacant North American Boxing Association (NABA) super featherweight title.
Considerably behind on the scorecards through 10 rounds, McGuinness came alive in the 11th, landing a sharp right hook followed by a left, flooring Gaudet with a roaring crowd behind him.
Gaudet was barely able to make the count, and rightfully, the referee in charge called the action to a halt as a TKO.
The No. 10 ranked fighter by the World Boxing Association in the lightweight division (135 lb.) was up against a veteran in Gaudet, who had come up short in his lone world title shot in 2009.
With McGuinness, 24, trying to play the role of aggressor, the veteran Gaudet appeared to get the better of the young prospect, tagging him with several clean counter shots in the opening round.
Gaudet, 31, stuck to a strategic game plan, using a stick-and-move style that had McGuiness looking off balance early.
McGuinness (16-0-1, 8 KOs) struggled to find his rhythm, spending the bulk of the early rounds chasing Gaudet (24-3, 10 KOs) around, but failing to land any clean punches.
Gaudet continuously found a home for his left jab, and subsequent right cross, while McGuinness tried his best to cut off the ring, but was unsuccessful.
The crowd did their best to will the former champ back into the fight, but saw little in-between the ropes that validated their efforts.
Through five rounds, Gaudet, of Drummondville, was pitching a shutout, with McGuinness appearing utterly bewildered.
To make the bout, McGuinness vacated his NABA lightweight title in order to challenge Gaudet for the vacant belt at super featherweight (130 lb.).
As the rounds wore on, it became evident McGuinness would require a knockout in order to win the fight, as Gaudet banked round after round using his in-and-out tactic to perfection.
Finally in Round 8, McGuinness was able to put some punches together and land with measurable consistency.
By the 11th, McGuinness was on track and closed the show in style.
Vargas by TKO
In the co-feature, and the most entertaining fight of the night, Mississauga’s own Samuel Vargas won by TKO over Ahmad Cheikho.
In what was an all-out war, including five total knockdowns, Cheikho (6-4-2, 5 KOs) was forced to retire after Round 5 with an injury to his left hand.
The bout started with fireworks right from the get-go.
With Cheikho dominating a spirited opening round, Vargas (8-0-1, 2 KOs) quickly turned the tables, appearing to catch Cheikho with a low blow that sent him to the canvas in obvious agony. The punch was scored a knockdown, and Cheikho recovered in time to make the count.
In Round 2, Cheikho, a Montreal resident born in Lebanon, continued to control the action, ultimately dropping the favoured Vargas with a crushing left hook. Vargas would beat the count and fight on.
With the crowd chanting his name, the hometown Vargas, fighting out of Mississauga by way of Columbia, began asserting himself in the third with Cheikho appearing worn, likely from throwing such a high volume of punches in the first two rounds.
Bringing the fans to their feet, Vargas dropped Cheikho twice in Round 4, first with a straight right to the chin, and then another just before the bell.
Vargas sent Cheikho to the floor for the fourth time with a flurry of punches in the fifth round, and Cheikho ultimately could not make the call for the sixth with his hand ailing.
Cook takes lopsided one
At super welterweight, Brandon Cook of Ajax (3-0, 1 KO) was the victor via unanimous decision in a lopsided contest against Darren Fletcher of Brantford (1-2, 0 KO).
At lightweight, Jeremy Abbott of Dunnville (3-2, 2 KOs) stopped Harrison McBain of Hamilton (3-4-1, 0 KO) in the first round of a scheduled six.
At light heavyweight, Lionell Thompson of Buffalo, N.Y. (10-0, 6 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Abdullah Ramadan of Toronto (15-11, 9 KOs).
At heavyweight, Dillon Carman of Mississauga (2-0, 1 KO) scored a first-round knockout of Orangeville native Gord Franjic, who was making his professional debut.
At super featherweight, Natasha Spence of Kitchener (3-0-1, 2 KOs) took a four-round unanimous decision over Lucia Larcinese of Montreal (4-8, 0 KO).