Braidwood creating some buzz

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

There was something vaguely Gerry Cooney-esque about the way six-foot-four, 265-pound Adam Braidwood demolished Devon Garnon in their heavyweight prelim Saturday night at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Within 10 minutes of watching the Edmonton Eskimos' defensive end administer his 47-second coup de grace, six different people gave me their unsolicited Reader's Digest condensed assessment of his performance.

Their comments ranged from, "We've finally got a real, live killer!" to "I'd pay twice as much to watch him again" and, "I didn't think white guys could whack like that."

All of which made me think of Cooney, the six-foot-six slugger from Huntington, N.Y., who electrified the heavyweight division in the late 1970s and early '80s with a combination of paralyzing punching power, media savvy and, as Muhammad Ali liked to put it, "the complexion that makes the connection."

Nothing else mattered.

After being spoon-fed 22 warm bodies to pad a perfect record, Cooney took a huge step up in class in 1980, KO'ing Jimmy Young and Ron Lyle in a total of five rounds.

BLITZED

He then blitzed ex-world champ Ken Norton in 54 seconds, setting up a $10 million payday against WBC champ Larry Holmes in 1982.

Holmes knocked him out in 13 rounds in what is still one of the top 10 highest-grossing fights in boxing history.

Cooney took a couple of years off before coming back to knock out a trio of anonymous stiffs, only to be knocked out himself by Michael Spinks (1987) and George Foreman (1990) before calling it quits with a record of 28-3 (24 KOs).

EXCITED

From the moment he turned pro, with a 30-second KO of Bill Jackson in 1977, what excited people about Cooney is the same thing that had folks buzzing about Braidwood on Saturday night: awesome punching power.

"He's the whole package; all he needs is more experience," raved Milan Lubovac, Braidwood's trainer.

"He's such a great athlete and such a natural puncher that he could go a long, long way in this sport if he chooses to. The things he needs to learn are very teachable, and he's a quick learner.

"Guys like him don't come around very often -- especially in a heavyweight body. He could be the real thing."

Coming from anyone else, that would sound like hollow hype. But Lubovac is one of the best and most respected trainers in the business.

No matter what you put it down to, the buzz over Braidwood is real.

The rest of KO Boxing's Back To Business card was superb -- including the crowning of Edmonton junior middleweight Kris Andrews and Saskatoon cruiserweight Ryan Henney as the World Boxing Association's newest regional champions.

But the talk among fans filing out of the Shaw was almost exclusively about the hammer-fisted Eskimo.

Braidwood is a long, long way from being the second coming of Gerry Cooney -- but he's already lit a fire under the ticket-buyers.

That alone makes him a story worth following.


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