Lakusta wowed Gentleman Gerry

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

On the phone from his New Jersey home yesterday, Gerry Cooney had fond memories of sparring with Edmonton's Ken Lakusta 20 years ago.

"Kenny could really whack - plus, he took all my best shots and he never backed up. I thought he was a real tough banger," said Cooney, who was the world's No. 1-ranked heavyweight contender when he earned $10 million for a title shot against Larry Holmes in 1982.

Cooney will be the special guest of Big Sky Promotions for the June 20 card at the River Cree Resort & Casino, headlined by a 12-round bout for the vacant WBC Native American championship between Tye Fields (41-2, 37 KOs) and Nicolai Firtha (16-5-1, 7 KOs).

Fields, who recently moved here from Las Vegas, is being trained by Lakusta.

"That's one of the wonderful things about boxing -- the friendships and connections that last long after guys leave the ring," said Cooney, who was stopped by Holmes in 13 rounds in their mega-fight at Caesars Palace.

"Guys like me and Kenny and Tye ... fighters are linked in a way you don't see in other sports.

"I remember when I first started out and I'd do my morning runs, I always waved to the garbage men because they were the only other guys on the street that early.

"I had a connection to blue collar America, and I loved being the 'working man's' fighter. I felt that lots of those folks looked forward to me winning, and I never wanted to let them down.

"I know Kenny and Tye probably feel the same way with their connection to Edmonton."

At six-foot-six and 235 pounds, Cooney was the prototype of today's super-sized heavyweights. But it was his personality as much as his punch that endeared him to a generation of fight fans.

"I'm still having fun - that's another reason I'm happy to come to Edmonton ... I hear you've got some great golf courses," said the 52-year-old Cooney, who retired in 1990 with a record of 28-3 (24 KOs).

"I do a lot of charity work and play a lot of golf, but I still miss boxing. In fact, I'm heading back to the gym this week. Nothing serious; I just want to work off a little rust.

"That's why I want Kenny to be ready when I get up there. Maybe we can spar a little again. He caught me with some big shots, so he's got some payback coming."

Moyah-Lessard rematch

The much-anticiapted rematch between Edmonton middleweights Trevor Moyah and Anthony Lessard will be featured on the Rumble at River Cree undercard.

Eighteen months ago, both men kissed the canvas in battling to a bloody eight-round draw in which Lessard broke his hand.


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