Fight card set for Telus Field

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

He's back for another bite.

Garry (Mad Dog) Stevenson, who in 1986 co-promoted the richest title fight in Canadian boxing history and three years later brought Mike Tyson to the City of Champions, is taking another crack at making Edmonton an "A list" fight town.

At a media conference this morning at Telus Field, Stevenson will announce his new affiliation with Straight To The Top Promotions, along with details of an outdoor card slated for Aug. 8 at the ballpark.

According to the inimitable Jack Krys, longtime Edmonton boxing judge, commissioner and all-around ring raconteur, the city's last big outdoor card was July 3, 1953, when Canadian heavyweight champ Earl Walls squared off with Utah's Rex Layne in front of a packed grandstand at the old Exhibition racetrack.

NICE MONICKER

Walls, who had one of the ring's all-time great nicknames -- "The Hooded Terror" -- took just 63 seconds to KO Layne, who had a record of 41-7-2 and went into the fight ranked No. 5 on the planet.

"Yeah, I heard about that Walls fight -- but contrary to popular opinion, I wasn't involved in the promotion," Stevenson chuckled yesterday.

While he refused to tip his hand on who will headline the Aug. 8 show, Sun Media learned last night that it will be a heavyweight showdown between Edmonton's Sheldon Hinton and two-time world title challenger Monte Barrett of New York.

Currently ranked No. 8 among American heavyweights, Barrett (34-7, 20 KOs), dropped a 12-round decision to WBC champ Hasim Rahman in 2005 and was stopped in 12 by seven-foot-one Russian giant Nicolai Valuev in a WBA title challenge the following year.

"There were a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows, but I never really got boxing out of my blood," said Stevenson, who took an extended hiatus from promoting after matching Orlin Norris and Smokin' Bert Cooper for the NABF heavyweight title at Northlands Coliseum (now Rexall Place) in 1990.

That was three months after Stevenson made international headlines by signing Tyson to fight Toronto's Donovan (Razor) Ruddock in the ill-fated "Cold War." More than $1 million in tickets were sold at Northlands the first day they went on sale, but a week later Tyson pulled out of the fight because of a lung infection.

"Those were both very memorable events ... but a lot of headaches, too. The most fun I had was putting together the first Canadian heavyweight title bout between (Ken) Lakusta and (Willie) deWit in 1986," recalled Stevenson, who was Lakusta's manager at the time.

"All the stars lined up for that one. We set a record for Canadian boxing with more than 14,000 fans at the Coliseum, and both Kenny and Willie both fought their hearts out. That was one of the greatest moments in Edmonton sports history, and people still talk about it."

He's hoping lightning will strike twice with this upcoming show.

'BIG EVENT'

"I think the proverbial 'big event' has been missing from the local fight scene for quite some time," said Stevenson. "Edmonton has always been a great boxing town and over the years we've had more than our fair share of exciting fighters, but for whatever reason there's been a sense of 'same old, same old.'

"We're hopeful that this outdoor card, featuring some new faces and intriguing matches, will kind of re-energize things and put the buzz back in Edmonton boxing. In a lot of ways it's a new beginning for me, but I've got a ton of faith in the fans here because they really care about the sport.

"This one's just the start. I'm really looking forward to jumping in with both feet ... again."


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