There was a time, not so long ago, when owning a British Commonwealth boxing title was a springboard to international acclaim. Indeed, the Commonwealth cachet was such that Edmonton-based Canadian champs like Al Ford, Danny Stonewalker, Tony Pep and Scotty Olson were all able to parlay stellar performances in Commonwealth title fights into shots at the world championship.
Tonight in London, England, however, ex-Canadian cruiserweight champ and current Commonwealth title-holder Troy Ross will single-handedly devalue that title's prestige - possibly beyond the point where it can ever again be taken seriously.
Somehow Ross, the Torontonian who was stripped of the Canadian belt last summer for refusing to defend it against either Saskatoon's Ryan Henney or Edmonton's James Cermak, is being allowed to fight Tony Booth, a pudgy 37-year-old with a record of 50-97-9.
You read that right. Booth's record is 50 wins, 97 losses and nine draws. He's won only five of his last 11 outings - against opponents with a combined record of 14-21 - dating back to May 2006. Before that, his last victory was a six-round decision over fellow Brit Paul Bonson in November 2004. Bonson's record at the time was a laughable 19-72-6.
Granted, tonight's eight-rounder at the ExCel Arena in London's Dockland district is not a title defence for Ross, but the mere fact the champ would willingly participate in such a travesty underlines just how tarnished the Commonwealth crown has become.
Equally depressing is that the Canadian Boxing Federation apparently hasn't voiced the slightest protest about this being Ross's first action since he won the title in November. The CBF absolutely should have insisted that his first bout as champion be a title defence against the winner of the April 13 Canadian title bout between Henney and Cermak, which the former won handily.
"I guess it will be later rather than sooner," Henney said when asked about his efforts to finally get Ross in the ring. "If he wants to run away to England and pretend to be a world-ranked fighter and a phoney champion, that's his choice. I think the main reason he's doing that is because Canadian fight fans know damn well that he's a phoney.
"He didn't want to fight me or James last year, and now he's making a conscious effort to avoid giving me a title shot because he knows what would happen. But I have faith in the fans and the Canadian boxing authorities. I think if enough pressure is put on him, he'll have to finally face me."
Let's hope the CBF doesn't wait too long before turning up the heat.
Canadian heavyweight champ David Cadieux was the bigger and younger man, but he didn't have enough to beat former French Olympian Josue Blocus when they squared off for the vacant NABO title in Montreal last Saturday. The 32-year-old Cadieux, five years younger and six inches taller than Blocus, dropped to 16-2 (11 KOs) after two judges scored it 118-112 and 117-113, while the third ringside arbiter called it a 114-114 draw. Blocus, who competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and now works as a sheriff in Georgia, improved to 15-2 (13 KOs) ... Another Canadian heavyweight, Justine Chiasson, is fighting for the Korean championship tomorrow night in Uijeongbu City. Unranked in Canada, the 25-year-old Chiasson is 4-0 with two knockouts. He's taking on Jae Chan Kim, who scored a KO in his first - and only - pro fight earlier this year. Obviously, the Korean heavyweight pool ain't too deep ... Former Canadian cruiserweight champ and three-time world title challenger Dale Brown will be honoured at a May 26 tribute card at Calgary's Deerfoot Inn. Brown was KO'd in two rounds by Darnell Wilson here in January and hasn't fought since.