Promoters Adam Harris and Don MacDonald are trying to awaken professional boxing in Ontario from its perpetual state of slumber.
Taking their initiative one step at a time, the pair seem confident when discussing their strategy, one they hope will hurdle the major stumbling blocks that have historically smothered the visions of wishful fight planners.
On Wednesday, the two were joined by a crowd of punchers, managers and media members at a Toronto luncheon, promoting the first of what the duo say will be many compelling boxing shows to come in the province.
“We’re trying to build a rivalry series of Quebec versus Ontario [cards],” said Harris, the managing director of Hennessy Sports Canada. “Boxing needs some of these fights to kick start [the sport] in Ontario.
“Don and myself are really pleased to bring this card to the fans.”
The Oct. 22 night at Mississauga, Ontario’s Hershey Centre will showcase that cross-border concept, as the main event pits Orangeville, Ont. native Logan Cotton McGuinness (15-0-1, 7 KOs) against Drummondville, Que. resident Benoit Gaudet (24-2, 10 KOs).
McGuinness, the reigning North American Boxing Association (NABA) lightweight champion, has a substantial following in his hometown, and is looking to add the former world title challenger, Gaudet, to his resume.
“I’m going into the biggest fight of my career, and it’s a big step-up in competition,” McGuinness, 24, told the Toronto Observer at Real Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Toronto. “I think I’m the bigger, younger and hungrier kid coming up, and he’s the veteran.”
To make the fight, the boxer ranked No. 11 in the lightweight division (135 lb.) by the World Boxing Association will vacate his current belt, and challenge the experienced Gaudet for the vacant NABA super featherweight championship (130 lb.).
Gaudet, who faltered in his lone world title shot in May 2009, has won four-straight since, and is looking to teach his young challenger a lesson when the two step through the ropes.
“I have been training for this fight since the beginning of June,” said Gaudet, 31, sporting the red, white and blue of the Montreal Canadiens, “so I will be in very good shape [for the bout].”
The co-feature will match Samuel Vargas (7-0-1, 1 KOs), of Mississauga by way of Columbia, and Ahmad Cheikho (6-3-2, 5 KOs), a Montreal, Que. resident born in Lebanon.
Molitor meets and greets
In cross-promotion with the October card, the meet-and-greet occasion also featured Steve (the Canadian Kid) Molitor (33-2, 12 KOs), who returns to the ring on Nov. 5 at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Que. for his first fight since losing a super bantamweight (122 lb.) world title in March.
He’ll battle Sebastian Gauthier (21-2, 13 KOs) from nearby Saint-Jerome, Que.
Molitor, 31, the two-time world champion from Sarnia, Ont., firmly dismissed retirement rumors that surfaced after his recent defeat, and reaffirmed his desire to again challenge the best in his division.
Wearing Maple Leaf legend Wendel Clark’s No. 17, as requested, Molitor expressed his great pleasure with the day’s scrum and its turnout.
“It’s great for the sport of boxing in Ontario,” he said. “There hasn’t been anything like this, with three province-based fighters being the main guys [on a card] against three Quebec fighters, in a long time.”
MacDonald, partner at United Boxing Promotions, says he is working on building up the consistency of fights in the province — a tactic he believes will help bridge the gap between boxing organizers and government bodies, who notoriously don’t see eye-to-eye.
While MacDonald admits some of the tension between the Ontario commission and local fighters can be attributed to the misdeeds of the boxers themselves, he maintains his position that trying to promote in the province remains a challenge.
“Our issues lie in the ability to have free reign in match making,” McDonald said. “All we want to do is work on the same field [as other countries and provinces].”
Getting governmental support behind the fight game, in-line with Quebec, a comparative boxing dynamo, will require patience, learning the intricacies of the process and of course, money.