EDMONTON - Kris Andrews and Anthony Lessard both got busted at Shaw Conference Centre Friday night, but their only crime was being too proud to show the damage.
Andrews retained his Canadian Boxing Federation junior middleweight title with a near-perfect 10-round decision over his crosstown rival in front of a sold-out house in the main event on KO Boxing’s Reload or Retreat card, but both fighters paid a painful price.
The champ broke his right hand in the opening round and his left hand in the fifth. Lessard sustained a broken rib right below his heart in Round 6.
“He’s got an awful hard head ... and his chin is like a rock,” Andrews said afterwards.
“I had him ready to go in that first round, but then I felt something in my (right) hand break, and the pain shot all the way up my arm.
“After my other hand was hurt, I had to pick my spots and just kind of throw one at a time. But he’s a warrior ... there’s no quit in him.”
Lessard could empathize. “A busted hand hurts like hell, but a broken rib is no picnic, either,” he said with a smile beneath a badly swollen right eye.
“I take my hat off to Kris. He fought a great, great fight. His movement was so much better than when we fought last year, and so was his speed.
“I wanted to bang him to the body, that was our fight plan, but I just couldn’t catch him.”
From the opening bell, Andrews was on his toes, sharpshooting his jab and utilizing all of the 18-foot-ring. Between pumping the jab and slamming home body shots every time Lessard tried to move inside, the champ was able to dictate the pace — as reflected in the three scores of 99-90.
“That’s one of the things I brought back from California,” Andrews said of a recent month-long training camp spent sparring with world-ranked contenders.
“Speed, whether its punching or foot movement, is what sets up everything else. I came with speed, and he had no answer for it.”
The only knockdown came on the sequence that saw Lessard break his rib in the sixth. Andrews landed a vicious left hook to the temple that sent Lessard reeling into the ropes, then he came back with a right to the torso that dropped the challenger to his knees.
“I wanted the knockout, and if my hands weren’t busted I know I would’ve got it,” said Andrews, a six-root-two southpaw.
Then he paused and added: “But I still can’t believe how well Anthony can take a shot.”
In the prelims ...
Showing a poise way beyond that of a fighter making only his third pro appearance, Edmonton light heavyweight Kyle Matuk scored his third consecutive KO, dispatching Vancouver’s James Dearmin (4-7-1) with a hellacious hook at 1:20 of Round 2.
The curtain-raiser was an entertaining light heavyweight match between Jarid Bussemakers and Aaron Zimmerman, two Edmontonians making their pro debuts. It wasn’t pretty, but Zimmerman used his big right hand to club out a convincing TKO at 2:05 of the second round.