Rise of the pugilists

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Sir Elton John nailed it: Saturday night's all right for fighting.

When the dust settles on this week's Alliance Promotions card at The Palace banquet hall and KO Boxing's Feb. 13 show at the Shaw Conference Centre, we should have a much clearer picture of what's in store in the coming months -- particularly for three of Canada's top four cruiserweights.

SIX-ROUNDER

James Cermak (14-2, 10 KOs) will fight for the first time in nine months when he takes on Vancouver's Alston Brown (3-5-1, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder on Alliance's Rise to the Titles card at The Palace. An impressive victory would vault the Edmonton slugger into instant consideration to challenge the winner of the Feb. 13 Canadian Boxing Federation title rematch between champion Frank White of Sarnia (7-2-1, 5 KOs) and Saskatoon's Ryan Henney (14-3, 9 KOs).

Henney and Cermak are behind Vancouver's Kevin Reynolds in the CBF's crusierweight ratings, but White has made it clear he'd like to keep Reynolds on the outside looking in because of past disagreements. For his part, Cermak says he'd like nothing better than to issue an immediate challenge to the winner of White-Henney III in order to move up in the North American Boxing Federation rankings, where he's No. 14, one notch below White.

"It doesn't matter which one of those guys wins on Feb. 13 ... I'll beat either one," said Cermak, who has split two bouts with Henney. "We're all lumped together in the (Canadian) ratings, but when I have the title it will give me a little more status in getting fights against ranked guys in the U.S. It would be an opportunity to step up another notch."

Rise to the Titles will be headlined by an eight-rounder between unbeaten super middleweight Jason De Laronde (10-0) of Edmonton and Steve Walker of Hannibal, Mo.

De Laronde, the CBF's former No. 1-ranked contender, hasn't fought since knocking out light heavyweight James Dearmin in Nov. 2008 and has dropped to No. 5 in the national rankings because of inactivity. But with the championship vacant, a splashy win on Saturday would likely advance him at least two spots and put him in line for a title shot later this year.

"Yeah, it's been a long layoff ... but I kept busy and stayed in shape," said De Laronde, who endured the double whammy of a hand injury and cancelled dates. "That's why it was important for me to get a veteran guy for this fight; a guy who's been around and will give me some work."

Walker appears to fill that bill. The former USBA (Midwest) middleweight champ has a 19 wins by KO on his 23-23 record, so De Laronde doesn't expect to have to go looking for him.

MEXICUTIONER

Rounding out Rise to the Titles will be a six-round featherweight clash between Edmonton's Omar (The Mexicutioner) Valdez (5-2-3) and Mike Dobbs (11-8) of Oklahoma City, and a four-round middleweight showdown between undefeated two-time Olympian Adam Trupish (3-0) and Halifax's Juan Sanchez (3-4-1). The card will open with Edmonton super featherweight C.J. Borden making his pro debut against Dave McQuaker (1-1) of Lethbridge.

"Our goal is to showcase local talent and hopefully get these guys into a position where they can challenge for Canadian titles," said John Mendonca of Alliance Promotions. "Cermak, De Laronde, Valdez and Trupish are all ranked in the top five in Canada in their respective divisions, but in order to get a shot at the belt, they have to stay busy.

"This is an exciting time for Edmonton boxing. There's going to be a lot of action here over the next few months."

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


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