Commonwealth crown tarnished

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:03 PM ET

British media darling Tyson Fury will challenge for the Commonwealth heavyweight championship on Saturday -- something no Canadian-born fighter has been allowed to do since Edmonton's Ken Lakusta was stopped in 11 rounds by future world champ Trevor Berbick in 1983.

Incredibly, over the 119-year history of the British Empire/Commonwealth crown, only two native-born Canadians -- Tommy Burns and Larry Gains -- have won it, and Lakusta and Vancouver's Gordie Racette are the only homegrown fighters to challenge for it.

Apparently, British challengers get a free pass, no matter how pedestrian their records.

Fury, 14-0 with 10 KOs, will be going up against London-based champion Dereck Chisora, who is also 14-0 but has one less stoppage than the 6-foot-9 challenger, whose freakish size and boy-next-door demeanour have captivated Britain's sporting press.

While the champ at least has a win over Danny Williams -- the same Danny Williams who KO'd Mike Tyson in 2004 -- Fury's record is littered with the likes of Zack Page, Tomas Mrazek and Daniil Peretyatko.

Page, a 38-year-old journeyman, was 21-32 when Fury beat him in a unanimous decision seven months ago in Quebec City. Mrazek was 4-22-5 when he went the distance with Fury in 2009, while Peretyatko was 15-20.

All of which begs the question: why is this guy getting a crack at the Commonwealth crown when at least three Canadians are more deserving?

CBF champ Neven Pajkic is 16-0. Patrice L'Heureux of Shawinigan, Que., is 24-5. J.F. Bergeron of Montreal is 27-2.

And you could make a strong argument to throw Edmonton's Tye Fields -- a transplanted American -- and his 48-4 record in the mix.

But no. The British Boxing Board of Control seems to want to keep it all in the family on the other side of the pond.

Regardless of the outcome, Saturday's fight -- which airs live on Super Channel at 3 p.m. ET -- will only reinforce the BBBC's reputation as an old boys' club that wants to maintain the status quo, woeful though it may be.

We can only hope Chisora, who was born in Zimbabwe, bursts Fury's bubble and gets on with the business of accepting more legitimate challenges.

"Fury brings a dream, and little else, into the ring," Chisora told worldboxingnews.net last week.

"He is a poor man's version of (Wladimir) Klitschko: upright and robotic. He's like a tall tree and, like a tree, if you chop away at the trunk, the tree will fall."

The 27-year-old Chisora, who will give away eight inches in height and 20 pounds in weight on Saturday, has twice had title fights against world champion Wladimir Klitschko cancelled.

"Fury comes across as someone trying hard to convince himself more than others," he added.

"Empty vessels make the most noise. I will show everyone that Fury isn't what he thinks.

"I am the British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion and beating Fury will remove another pretender."

That might help advance the agenda of Edmonton's Ed Pearson, who was recently elected president of the Commonwealth Boxing Council and has vowed to make its ratings and title opportunities more attainable to fighters from outside of the U.K.

"Canada certainly falls into that category, and we want to expose promising prospects and their promoters to our zonal championships in hopes that they'll strive for the main Commonwealth titles," Pearson stated in his acceptance speech.

Here's hoping those weren't just empty words for Canadian contenders who have more than earned their shot at Commonwealth glory.


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