Henney cruises to Canadian title

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Ryan Henney was in no hurry -- and it showed.

With the unflappable demeanour of a guy waiting for a red light to turn green, Henney overcame an early knockdown before throwing his engine into overdrive.

When the dust settled, the sleepy-eyed slugger from Saskatoon had regained the Canadian cruiserweight title with a unanimous 10-round decison over Sarnia's Frank White in front of a sold-out house Saturday night at the Shaw Conference Centre.

"I thought I won at least seven and probably eight of the rounds," said Henney, who became the first ex-champ to win back the Canadian Boxing Federation cruiserweight crown that he lost to White two years ago.

"The knockdown was just one of Frank's lightning bolts out of nowhere ... I never even saw it. But I tied him up pretty good after that and shook it off. From that point on, I was never in trouble."

The knockdown, 30 seconds into Round 4, came after Henney won the first three in convincing fashion.

Employing vastly improved footwork to cut off the ring and not give White any room to load up power punches, Henney was content to pot-shot from long distance and then tie up the champ in close.

"Yeah, he fought a smart fight ... tied me up real good and didn't let me get any kind of rhythm," said White, sporting a pulpy mouse under his right eye.

"I had a feeling (the title) was slipping away in the last few rounds. He just didn't give me any room to punch."

All three judges scored the fight 96-93.

- Youth was served in the featured prelim when debuting Edmonton cruiserweight Ryan Ford eked out a four-round decision over ex-Canadian champ Willard Lewis of Hobbema.

Ford, 27, who owns a world title in MMA, had a difficult time coping with the wily Lewis in the first two rounds, missing wildly with right hands and repeatedly finding himself on the business end of Lewis's looping hooks.

In the third, however, Ford found his timing and began to pressure Lewis to the body. That swung the tempo of the bout, tipping it in Ford's favour.

"He's a hell of a tough guy," Ford said of the 35-year-old Lewis, who challenged for the WBO world championship 11 years ago.

"He threw me off by using his elbows and shoulders to keep me off balance in the first couple of rounds. It was kind of confusing, because I couldn't hit him cleanly.

"I definitely learned that boxing is a lot different from MMA. I hit the guy with punches that would've ended any MMA fight, but those big gloves make a big difference. I'm just glad I had enough left at the end to win it."

Judge William Warwick scored it 39-37, while Craig Metcalf had it 38-38. Mark Edel's 40-36 score in Ford's favour made you wonder what fight he was watching.

In other early bouts:

- Flashy Calgary super-lightweight Steve Claggett kept his perfect record intact, moving to 6-0-1 with a 91-second annihilation of Chicago's Michael Maley, who dropped to 3-7.

Claggett was on the attack from the opening bell, pressuring Maley with a non-stop jab and short, snapping hooks to the body.

A straight right to the jaw, followed by a left hook to the chin ended it at 1:31 of the opening round.

- A very poised and very accurate Kyle Matluk made an impressive debut by stopping Justin Berger in an all-Edmonton super-middleweight clash.

Matluk showcased impressive left-hand power early, wobbling Berger twice in the opening minute before settling into a straight-ahead attack behind a sizzling jab.

Berger who dropped to 3-5, was game but clearly outclassed. The end came at 1:02 of Round 3, when Matluk ripped a right uppercut to Berger's chin, followed by a short left to the head that dumped him to the canvas.

Berger didn't even wait for the count. After staggering to his feet, he shook his head at his cornermen before quickly parting the ropes to let himself out of the ring.

- In a super-featherweight slugfest to open the card, Edmonton's Amy Johnson and Calgary's Peggy Maerz battled to an entertaining four-round draw.

Making her pro debut at age 38, Maerz showed a lot of moxie in the first two rounds, slipping laterally to repeatedly slam hooks to Johnson's body. Over the last two, however, Johnson found her punching rhythm as her experience started to show.

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


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