The province of Ontario is not exactly known for its boxing history. Outside of the legendary George Chuvalo, few boxers have established themselves as pugilists of significance. Former welterweight contender Clyde Gray and Steve Molitor, former IBF Junior Featherweight Champion spring to mind, but after that some research is required.
But over the past few years, things have slowly progressed. What started as one pro event each year has slowly grown into a movement.The province is now on pace to hold five or more events by the end of this year, and while that’s laughably low compared to the well-established boxing scene of Quebec, it is progress.
At the forefront of this evolution has been United Promotions, a company that has been hosting shows over the past few years at Casino Rama in Orillia and the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. They’ve put substantial time and effort into growing their business and developing their boxers, which led to their hosting an interim WBA Cruiserweight title fight last fall between Ontario’s Denton Daley and France’s Youri Kalenga. Although Daley lost the bout, the event was well attended, reinforcing the sense there is a viable market for world-class boxing in Ontario.
One of the other stars United Promotions has thrown their marketing tools behind is featherweight Logan McGuinness and tomorrow night McGuinness will compete as a headliner in his home province against Luiz Armado Juarez in what should prove to be another interesting challenge for the young Ontarian.
At 20-0, McGuinness might be Ontario’s best hope for a world-title contender, although it won’t be easy in the talent-heavy featherweight class. With veterans like Jhonny Gonzalez and slick technicians like Vasyl Lomachenko ruling the roost, McGuinness is still a long way from the world title discussion.
For now, he’ll have to worry about the problem that stands in front of him. Juarez is a 19-8-4 Argentinean who has lost four of his last seven bouts. While this isn’t exactly the type of opponent that is going to encourage the sanctioning bodies to move McGuinness up the ranks, that only means Logan must try to come through with an impressive performance and, if the opportunity presents itself, finish his opponent inside the distance.
Few fighters know better about the need to finish the job than co-main event fighter Steve Franjic. In his last bout, Franjic was in complete control of what appeared to be an overmatched adversary. He was putting together combinations and landing shots to both body and head while keeping his opponent handcuffed. But it took only one blow to the temple for Alvaro Gaona to badly damage Franjic and bring an end to the Ontarion’s undefeated record.
At only 27, Franjic has time to learn from his loss and will start with his opponent on Saturday night, Ricardo Marcela Ramallo. Also an Argentinian, Ramallo has lost three of his last four bouts and will be looking to rebound. He has been in with some of the best fighters in the world, including recent world title challenger Hasaan N’Dam, and will look to use that experience to push the pace over eight rounds.
The undercard is filled with interesting prospects worth watching, and Hamilton’s Kevin Higson is at the top of that list. Currently 5-0 he faces fellow prospect Junmar Emon of Toronto. And then there’s the return of Razor Ruddock. Yes, we’re talking about the same Ruddock who twice fought Mike Tyson and engaged in a memorable brawl with Tommy Morrison. At 51-years-old, Razor has decided to attempt a comeback and while few think this is a good idea, his name will likely help sell some tickets. — Shawn Smith