Journey to the heart of courage

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:03 PM ET

After watching Kris Andrews and Anthony Lessard take turns being both hammer and anvil through 10 rounds of non-stop brawling Friday night, it's too bad we can't start including heart measurements in the pre-fight tale of the tape.

Andrews, the slick-punching six-foot-2 southpaw, expertly utilized his height and reach advantages to keep the shorter, stockier Lessard at bay en route to a unanimous 10-round decision in their Canadian Boxing Federation junior middleweight title bout in front of a packed house at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Through the first four rounds, Andrews used his superior boxing skills and razor-sharp jab to build a nearly insurmountable lead, dropping Lessard for flash knockdowns in the second and fourth thanks to the kind of rhythmic punch sequences that have completely turned his career around.

Remember, this is a guy who was 4-6-1 through his first 11 pro outings. Including Saturday, Andrews has gone 12-2-1 since.

But it was Lessard (7-5-2), the consummate underdog with dynamite in his right fist, who in the end personified what this all-Edmonton grudge match was really about: heart and guts.

Thirty seconds into Round 5, Lessard stormed to the centre of the ring and launched a laser right hook that caught Andrews flush on the temple.

The impact sent Andrews careening four feet backwards, and would have knocked him clear out of the ring if the ropes weren't there to hold him up.

That one punch, delivered with a ferocity that stunned everyone who saw it, spoke volumes for both men.

For Lessard, it was testament to the lion-sized heart that brought him out of the corner five more times, even as he felt the fight slipping away. With a minute left in the 10th, all but out on his feet, he brought the crowd to their feet by barking "Come on!" and waving Andrews in for another brutal exchange of leather.

For Andrews, whose amazing recuperative powers allowed him to score another knockdown in Round 6, it was the supreme test of guts and will.

The fact that all three judges -- Craig Metcalfe, Ron Hayter and Dave Bilocerkowec -- had Andrews winning seven of the 10 rounds was moot. My scorecard had it a lot closer, with the same result.

What counted for much more was that both men performed exactly the way they said they would, with pride, courage and dignity. No quarter asked, and none given.

From this corner, that makes both of them champions.

I can't wait for the rematch.

Quick jabs

The ferocity of the main event was reflected in the post-fight 30-day suspensions handed to Andrews and Lessard by the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission ... The entire Armed & Dangerous card was taped for telecast on SportsNet, with James Monsees and former two-time Canadian heavyweight champ Ken Lakusta calling the action. KO Boxing president and promoter Glen Carriere said he'll know the air dates later this week ... Apart from a couple of rookie miscues, St. Albert super middleweight Jorge Ravanal looked efficient and proficient in his pro debut -- a unanimous decision over a game but outgunned Justin Berger (3-4). Ravanal had the benefit of a veritable dream team in his corner, with savvy trainer Milan Lubovac ably assisted by three-time world champion Jelena Mrdjenovich and local MMA star Victor Valimaki.

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos