Canadian to defend world title

GEORGE GROSS, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET

Boxing in Toronto has been in decline since the days of George Chuvalo, the man nobody could knock down, not even the great Muhammad Ali.

The local boxing "primo triumvirate" of Chuvalo, Irv Ungerman and Vince Bagnato has tried for several years to bring it back, without much success.

However, there is a possibility of rekindling the interest in the sport with Mississauga's Steve Molitor set to defend his IBF junior featherweight world title against South African Takalani Ndlovu at Casino Rama tomorrow night.

Takalani who?

I have been around boxing rings for many years, but I never heard of Takalani Ndlovu. I figured one of these three boxing gurus would be able to shed some light on Ndlovu and tomorrow's fight.

I was wrong.

"I have seen Molitor fight a couple of times, but I have no clue who the other guy is," said Ungerman, Toronto's exuberant former boxing promoter and Chuvalo's former manager. "Really, I've actually never heard of him. It is terrific that Molitor is the world champion and it would be fabulous if he could successfully defend his title because it would inspire young fighters.

"Boxing needs supporters such as the late Ed Mirvish and Steve Stavro. Right now it's the kids of immigrants who are into boxing. But it would be really nice to see it flourish in Canada."

After this opening gambit, I found the ol' promoter at work. Tossing Saturday's fight aside, he went on to promote another event dear to his heart.

"On July 19, George Chuvalo will meet Joe Frazier again," Ungerman said. "Not in the ring, mind you, but at a fundraiser for Chuvalo's 'Fight Against Drugs' and Frazier's charities. It will be a nostalgic affair because it will be 40 years to the day that the two of them fought in New York's Madison Square Garden and George had to give up in the fourth round because of an eye injury.

"The evening, for 200 invited guests at $600 a plate, will be held at the sports and events facility called Legends at Frameworth, 1198 Caledonia Rd., and all proceeds will go to the two charities. Club president Brian Erinworth will provide boxing souvenirs to auction off to assure the charities of a profit."

Then, as usual, he saved a crack for last.

"When I managed George Chuvalo, I took the punches and George took the money," Ungerman said with a laugh.

Chuvalo doesn't mind Irving's cracks. He got used to them during the past 40 years. Besides, Chuvalo is too busy to deal with it because his time is taken up by his ample charity work. He is, however, aware of Saturday's world championship fight.

"I've seen Molitor fight a couple of times some years ago," said Chuvalo, "but I can't assess his opponent. It would, however, be great for Canada if Molitor could retain his title."

The third man of the unholy triumvirate is Vince Bagnato, who at one time promoted Molitor. The 75-year-old spoke with great enthusiasm about Steve Molitor.

"When I saw Steve the first time in the ring, I knew he would be an excellent fighter," Bagnato said. "In fact, I promoted him seven or eight times at the Shaw Festival galas at the Royal York Hotel.

"I remember Irv (Ungerman) told me early that the kid would win a world championship.

"He is not a hard puncher, but he can hurt you to the body. The kid is a very talented craftsman in the ring and a pleasure to watch."

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Maple Leafs baseball club owner Jack Dominico announced that his team will hold a free clinic for youngsters Sunday at 10 a.m. at Christie Pits. Following the clinic, the Maple Leafs will play the Brantford Red Sox and fans will receive free Schneider's hot dogs ... Canada's International Tennis Club will play the Toronto Lawn Tennis team on July 28 at 2.30 p.m. at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club.


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