Smart move for Lessard to step up

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Edmonton welterweight Anthony Lessard knows all about hits and misses - especially that when the other guy misses, he's easier to hit.

Lessard - whose ring moniker is "Hits Hard" - proved as much six weeks ago when he capped a brilliant defensive effort by notching one of the most memorable knockouts of the year at the Shaw Conference Centre.

A murderous right hook in the dying seconds of the final round dropped Winnipeg's Billy Arnott with enough force to cause his head to bounce twice on the canvas. Arnott didn't move for nearly six minutes while the ringside physician coaxed him back from la-la land.

IMPRESSIVE

Even more impressive was the fact it was Lessard's first bout since breaking his hand in a draw with crosstown rival Trevor Moyah 10 months earlier.

Their much-anticipated rematch was supposed to be the featured prelim on the Nov. 7 British Invasion card headlined by Jelena Mrdjenovich vs. unbeaten Lyndsey Scragg (7-0) of England, but another injury has forced Moyah to pull out.

"We gave Moyah a couple of opportunities for a rematch and I'm really bummed out that he apparently doesn't want to fight me again," Lessard said yesterday.

"But I'm not going to dwell on it. I want to move my career forward - that's why we're stepping up on this next card."

That's a bit of an understatement.

Lessard (6-3-2, with 4 KOs) will now fight Constantin Florescu, a transplanted Romanian slugger who fights out of Toronto under the name of Rocky Floriano.

Ranked No. 2 in Canada at 147 pounds, the hard-punching Florescu has a record of 10-2-1, with eight victories via the KO route.

"At this stage of my career it's important to keep improving and keep the momentum going," said Lessard, who hasn't lost a fight since being stopped by Rashad Holloway in May of 2006.

PROMISE

"It was tough sitting out those 10 months while my hand healed, but I made a promise to myself that when I came back there would be no easy fights. To accomplish my goal of winning the Canadian title and maybe getting some fights down south, I've gotta step up."

In addition to vaunted punching prowess, Lessard showcased vastly improved defence against Arnott, employing slick lateral movement to repeatedly make the taller man miss.

"I learned a long time ago that it's the punches you don't land that tire you out, so we've worked hard on improving my footwork to make the other guy miss," Lessard said of training under ex-Commonwealth champ Tony Badea.

"Now I've got way more confidence in my defence than ever before - but it's also nice to know that when I connect with my right hand, it's usually lights out for the other guy."

In addition to the six-round Lessard-Florescu bout and WBC super featherweight champ Mrdjenovich's non-title 10-rounder with Scragg, the British Invasion will feature Canadian cruiserweight champ Frank White of Sarnia, Ont., vs. Montreal's Kareem Chartrand; Calgary welterweight Steve Claggett vs. Dave Petryk of Vancouver; and the return of two local favourites in lightweight Tony Pep and heavyweight Shane Biever.

Pep (42-10-1, 23 KOs), the former world-ranked Canadian and Commonwealth super featherweight champ, will fight for the first time since early 2004 when he takes on Montreal's Leonard Arojas (7-7).

After being stopped by White in early 2007, Biever (4-1) turned to mixed martial arts, where he's compiled a 3-5 record. The promoter, KO Boxing, has not yet announced an opponent for his return to the ring.


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