Andrews steps up

MURRAY GREIG

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The last time Edmonton fight fans saw junior middleweight Kris Andrews, he was celebrating like a lottery winner after a stunning first-round annihilation of Tony Badea in June.

Badea, a former Canadian and British Commonwealth champion, had predicted he would lay a beating on his former sparring partner, but it was Andrews who dished out all the violence.

In a two-minute impersonation of the Red Army, the six-foot-two southpaw tattooed Badea with a dozen solid punches -- the last one a hellacious right hook to the head that all but launched the former champ into the second row of ringside diners.

Referee Len Koivisto didn't even bother to count.

On Jan. 24 Andrews returns to the ring at the Shaw Conference Centre to fight Canadian welterweight champ Victor Puiu for the first title belt awarded by the World Boxing Association's newly minted NABA Canada.

The winner will have the inside track on challenging his counterparts in the U.S. and Mexico, with the ultimate prize being a legitimate global Top 20 ranking with the WBA.

According to promoter Glen Carriere, the Andrews-Puiu bout signals the end of the Canadian Boxing Federation's "money-grubbing monopoly" on sanctioning title fights.

"We've been the most active promoters in the country for the past 20 years and over that time we've paid the CBF upwards of $100,000 in sanctioning fees," said Carriere, who heads Edmonton-based KO Boxing.

"Yet at every opportunity, the Federation puts up roadblocks. As far as we're concerned, the CBF titles aren't worth the cost of the belts they charge us for.

"By going with NABA Canada, we're giving Andrews and Puiu the opportunity to achieve something beyond these borders."

Through the creation of the NABA and five other regional organizations, the WBA hopes to streamline its sanctioning procedures and bring some semblance of order to international rankings.

"The World Boxing Association is the only global sanctioning body that has created a regional affiliate system to ensure that only qualified fighters can compete for our titles," said George Martinez, the Toronto-based chairman of the NABA.

"The best way to do that, using the NABA as an example, is by having Canadians fight Canadians, Americans fight Americans and Mexicans fight Mexicans.

"Only the NABA Canada champion can fight the champion from the U.S. or Mexico, and only the overall regional champion can challenge another region's titleholder.

"It's good for the fans and good for the promoters because it means the two fighters ultimately competing for major WBA championships have earned their right to be there by fighting their way up the ladder."

For his part, Andrews says the opportunity to be fast-tracked to a regional ranking is a powerful incentive.

"Obviously it would be great to win the very first NABA Canada title and then step up against the champion from the U.S. or Mexico ... that's our ultimate goal," Andrews said yesterday.

"This is a big fight for me because it represents a chance to get on the international stage. I'm training for Puiu even harder than I trained for Badea.

"I've won two of my last three fights with quick knockouts, and I can already feel my right hand itching for another one on Jan. 24."


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