Big Sky's debut a real knockout

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

WBC, WBA, WBO, WBU, IBF, IBU, NABF, NABC, NABA, CAM, CBU, CBF ...

Those are just a dozen of pro boxing's so-called "sanctioning bodies."

In the end, it comes down to WTHC: who the hell cares?

For the record, Tye (Big Sky) Fields knocked out Nicolai Firtha in the sixth round to win the Native American Boxing Council (NABC) heavyweight title Saturday night at the River Cree Resort and Casino.

It wasn't a WBC (World Boxing Council) or NABF (North American Boxing Federation) crown -- despite the fact the two fighters, the referee and a couple of ringside officials had WBC logos sewn to their duds.

It seems sportswriters aren't the only ones who are alphabetically challenged by this stuff.

In an e-mail to Sun Media yesterday, North American Boxing Federation president Joe Dwyer pleaded: "Please note that Tye Fields is the current NABC (Native American Boxing Council) champion, NOT the NABF (North American Boxing Council)."

Apparently Mr. Dwyer is as confused as we are about whether he represents a council or a federation. Sounds like something Star Fleet Command (SFC) might need to mediate.

No matter.

What counts most is that Fields, who went into Saturday's fight ranked in the top 25 in North America and the top 40 in the world, has added another impressive knockout to his record of 42-2 (38 KOs) and taken another step towards realizing his dream of a shot at one of the "big four" (WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF) world championships.

As dominant as Fields was in his first fight in 12 months, he acquitted himself equally well in his role as promoter.

From the first week he arrived from Las Vegas four months ago, the personable six-foot-eight, 265-pounder brought a refreshing new approach to selling boxing in Edmonton, at the same time building a template the competition would be wise to follow.

"I didn't know Edmonton and Edmonton didn't know me, so I wanted to introduce myself by making our first Big Sky Promotions show a good one," Fields said at the post-fight soiree.

"I'm happy and grateful that the work paid off with such a great crowd and a great night of boxing.

"I've learned a lot about promoting over the past couple of months and we'll be looking to be even bigger and better for our next show in the fall."

The legwork that Fields put into making the card a success was nothing short of phenomenal.

After daily workouts with trainer Ken Lakusta at Legends Training Centre, Fields tirelessly canvassed every corner of the city, dropping off more than 1,500 flyers and posters.

He met with business owners, visited the troops at Edmonton Garrison, chatted up students and seniors.

By putting a face to the name, Fields put some hustle behind the muscle.

It paid off, big time.

"When I think of how many times I bent down getting in and out of the car, it was like doing a few thousand sit-ups or squat thrusts," he joked.

"That was almost tougher than running up and down Champion's Hill.

"Getting out and meeting the public was a lot of fun ... but tiring, too. Without the support of my wife and the people at River Cree, I couldn't have pulled it off.

"What's most satisfying is that strangers have been coming up to shake my hand and say how much they enjoyed the show. That means a lot."

Cooney strikes a chord

Former world No. 1 heavyweight contender Gentleman Gerry Cooney more than lived up to his nickname as the special guest at Saturday's card.

After being mobbed by fans at Friday's weigh-in, the 52-year-old Cooney joked that he might need to bring a bodyguard to the fight. Between signing hundreds of autographs and posing for countless photos, he climbed into the ring before the main event to tell the sold-out crowd that he'd heard enough Newfie jokes to last a lifetime. "My dad was born in St. John's, so I know what all that humour is about," he quipped ... Well-deserved kudos go to the River Cree Combative Sports Commission and front men Al MacKechnie (chairman) and Dale Kliparchuk (ring general). From the weigh-in to the rules meeting to the ringside facilities for media, everything ran like clockwork. Even when a turnbuckle on the brand new ring busted just minutes before the opening bout, it was quickly and efficiently repaired ... Toronto-born 2009 Playboy calendar cover model Anissa Holmes served as the round-card girl for the main event. "It was totally awesome ... I love the intensity of boxing," she said.


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