Enough fancy footwork

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

November's ratings from the Canadian Boxing Federation underline that the time has come for three of Edmonton's six nationally ranked contenders to stop dancing and start fighting.

For the first time in more than two decades, two Edmontonians -- Tye Fields and Sheldon Hinton -- are ranked among the CBF's Top 10 heavyweights, with Fields (43-2) at No. 2 and Hinton (11-6-1) at No. 7. Meanwhile, James Cermak (14-2) is rated No. 3 at cruiserweight; unbeaten Jason De Laronde (10-0) is No. 3 at super middleweight; Anthony Lessard (8-4-2) is No 2 at junior middleweight; and Omar (The Mexicutioner) Valdez (5-2-3) is No. 2 at super featherweight.

Fields, Hinton and Lessard recorded wins in the past six weeks and all three have expressed a desire to return to action early in 2010. For Cermak, De Laronde and Valdez, however, chronic inactivity could soon harpoon any chance they might have of challenging for a CBF title or a belt from the rival Canadian Professional Boxing Council.

De Laronde hasn't fought for 12 months; Cermak and Valdez for six. To some degree, extenuating circumstances are to blame. All three have battled minor injuries, and in the case of Valdez, it's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the 130-lb. super featherweight limit when opponents pull out or cards are cancelled.

But that doesn't excuse the fact that this trio of talented crowd-pleasers hasn't pushed hard enough in recent months.

Cermak stands to lose the most. Ranked No. 13 in North America, he looked like his lethal old self in notching a fourth-round KO over Mexico's Ernesto Zamora in April and then taking just two minutes to demolish Kareem Chartrand in May. Since then, however, he's fallen off the radar, allowing the likes of Kevin Reynolds, Ryan Henney and Bobby Gunn to surpass him on Canadian champ Frank White's hit list.

De Laronde's inactivity has likewise cost him by slipping two notches in the CBF ratings thanks to the emergence of Quebec's Nicholson Poulard (13-3), and the recent decision by Manitoba's Larry Sharpe (23-7) to campaign at super middleweight.

The solution? These three guys have to rededicate themselves to paying the price -- both in the gym and in pursuing fights outside the comfortable confines of their home base.

With Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal each hosting more than a half-dozen pro cards this year, there's been lots of chances to fight on the road. Cermak, De Laronde and Valdez have to show they're willing to step up and grab those opportunities.

Why not Ruiz?

Speaking of Fields and Hinton, either one of Edmonton's big heavyweights could advance his career monumentally by challenging two-time World Boxing Association champion John Ruiz, who this week announced he is a promotional free agent and could be looking for a tune-up bout before he takes on newly crowned WBA champ David Haye in 2010.

The Las Vegas-based Ruiz (44-8-1, 30 KOs), the first and only world heavyweight champion of Latino heritage, says he is "open to discussions with interested promoters," adding: "It feels great to be free, especially with another world title shot coming next year. I'm looking for a promoter who will stand behind me and have full confidence in me."

Ruiz, Evander Holyfield, Andrew Golota and Shannon Briggs would all be a huge step up for either Fields or Hinton. If either man aspires to bigger and better paydays than those that come with a Canadian title shot, now is the time to make a move.

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


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