Boxers follow parallel paths

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Separated by more than half a century and at opposite ends of the career spectrum, Adam Trupish and Wilfie Greaves share an odd, almost mystical, connection to the Canadian Boxing Federation's middleweight championship.

When Trupish steps into the ring Friday night at The Palace banquet hall to fight Michael Walchuk for the vacant CBF crown, it won't exactly be a mirror image of the journey Greaves took to the title way back in 1958 -- but it's close.

A nine-time national amateur champ and two-time Olympian at junior middleweight, Trupish cut his boxing teeth in Windsor, Ont., before relocating to Edmonton in 2008.

Greaves, who won multiple national amateur titles in the early '50s and took the gold medal as a junior middleweight at the 1954 British Empire Games, was born and raised in Edmonton -- but he won the vacant CBF title in Windsor by knocking out Cobey McCluskey on April 26, 1958.

SUGAR RAY

Like Greaves, whose pro record of 36-27-2 included memorable bouts with Joey Giardello (three times), Dick Tiger, Gene Fullmer and Sugar Ray Robinson (twice each), Trupish has been in the ring with multiple world champions -- albeit as a sparring partner for the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Steve Molitor.

At five-foot-eight and an even 160 pounds, Greaves was 22 years old and already had 10 losses on his record when he won the Canadian title in his 29th pro fight.

Trupish is an identical five-foot-eight and 160 pounds, but he's 31 and the title shot is coming in only his fifth punch-for-pay outing (4-0).

Greaves used the Canadian championship as a springboard to a pair of unforget-table slugfests with Tiger for the British Commonwealth title. Both bouts were held at the old Edmonton Gardens in 1960, with Greaves winning the first one before getting stopped in the rematch.

If Trupish triumphs on Friday, he hopes to parlay the CBF belt into a showdown with Commonwealth champion Darren Barker.

There are also some stylistic similarities between the two men, according to Canadian ring icon George Chuvalo.

"Wilfie was a terrific puncher, especially to the body," Chuvalo recalls of Greaves, who died several years ago -- after moving to Windsor.

"One of the best body shots I ever saw him throw was at the 1955 national amateur championships in Regina, when he nailed my buddy Willie Barboie with a left hook to the ribs just a few hours after Willie ate his pre-fight meal.

"It was only about 30 seconds into the first round, so you can imagine what happened. Poor Willie puked his bacon and eggs and toast all over the ring before he was counted out.

"I haven't seen any of Trupish's pro fights, but I thought he had a very professional style over the last few years of his amateur career -- and a lot of that had to do with his ability to go to the body with both hands.

"That's a tough thing to learn, but he did it very well."

Despite all the parallels in their respective careers, Trupish had never heard of Greaves until this week.

'PRETTY COOL'

"It's pretty cool to be mentioned in the same breath as a fighter like that, especially after I looked up his record and saw he fought guys like Giardello, Tiger and Robinson," said Trupish.

"It's kind of weird that in all my years in Windsor, I never heard his name mentioned ... especially with him having lived there. But that's the thing about boxing -- you can feel connected by history and to guys who went before you."

Trupish will have the benefit of a much more familiar Windsor connection on Friday when his longtime amateur coach, Charlie Stewart, joins his corner crew.

"It's a big thrill for me to have Charlie come here for my title fight; he was such a huge influence on me in my amateur days, both in and out of the ring," said Trupish.

As for fighting the 8-1 Walchuk, his one-time roommate on the senior national team, Trupish doesn't expect any surprises.

"It's been many moons since we last saw each other in the ring; probably eight or nine years," he said.

"Mike was a bit of a runner back then, and from what I've been told he's been pretty much the same since he turned pro.

"He might have more experience as a professional in terms of having more fights, but when I look back on my last few years in the amateurs when I was sparring with guys like De La Hoya and Mayweather, you can't put a price on that kind of learning."


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