This could only happen in Edmonton

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Jackie McCoy, the late, great trainer/manager who moulded five world champions (Mando Ramos, Don Jordan, Raul Rojas, Carlos Palomino and Rodolfo Gonzalez) before hooking up with Grande Prairie heavyweight Willie deWit, once told me that Edmonton was the perfect place to take boxing "off the wall."

"You could get away with almost anything here," McCoy said. "The fans are so loyal and so used to seeing good cards go bad, that promoters don't need titles or gimmicks -- they just need two guys who are willing to fight."

That theory will be tested Jan. 24 at the Shaw Conference Centre when Edmonton's Kris Andrews (12-8-2) takes on Christopher Henry of Barbados (24-19) for -- wait for it -- the World Boxing Association's vacant Fedecentro middleweight championship.

In case you haven't guessed, Fedecentro is the WBA's regional affiliate for Central America.

Until this week, Andrews thought he would be fighting Canadian welterweight champ Victor Lupo for the WBA Canada crown. That fell through when the Toronto-based Lupo pulled out over a licensing issue.

So now we'll have a Canadian fight a Barbadian for a Central American title belt in a city where the average temperature in late January is somewhere south of -15 C.

If that's not a scenario for testing the loyalty of local fight fans, I don't know what is.

"Last-minute susbstitutions are never easy, but in this case I think we've actually improved the card because we've added the international element," said KO Boxing president Glen Carriere, who's promoting the show.

"What makes Henry such an intriguing opponent for Chris is that he's almost as tall (six-foot-one) and he's shown a lot of knockout power (18 KOs in 24 wins).

"The fact that the WBA is sanctioning this fight for the Fedecentro title is also a first for Canada. Whoever wins it is bound to get some exposure in the other guy's country."

The main event is the second fight on the six-bout Back to Business card that will feature a sub.

Former Canadian cruiserweight champ Ryan Henney of Saskatoon was originally scheduled to fight a rematch with Frank White, who won the title here last June.

When White opted out in order to pursue a fight in his home province of Ontario, Winnipeg's Kareem Chartrand stepped in.

"My not fighting in Edmonton has nothing to do with ducking Henney or anyone else; it was simply a business decision," White said from his home in Sarnia.

"They (KO Boxing) only offered the same purse I got for beating Henney last time, which was an insult," he said.

"When they refused to bump it up, I basically told them to forget it. It's an unfortunate situation, because I love fighting in Edmonton and the fans there have always treated me great.

"I've since signed a contract to defend the title on May 30 in Brantford -- but I need an opponent. I'll fight Henney, (Kevin) Reynolds, (James) Cermak, or whoever else wants to step up to challenge. I'm ducking nobody.

"When I read that Henney said I 'backed out' of a rematch, I was shocked. He knows that's a lie, but I won't stoop to the same level.

"Suffice to say that I'll fight anybody in Canada who wants a shot at my title -- but it has to be on my terms. It's a matter of respect."

Carriere, meanwhile, said KO Boxing still has promotional rights to White's next three title defences, "but as far as I'm concerned, we're done doing business with him."

The rest of the Back to Business card will be announced next week.\


Videos

Photos