By Charles Vanegas
The new heavyweight champion of Canada was crowned Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, with Dillon “Big Country” Carman knocking out Eric Martel Bahoeli at 2:46 of the seventh round. The Global Legacy Boxing show, broadcasted live on TSN2, featured Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo – best known for his 12-round battle with Muhammad Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens March 29, 1966 – in a prominent promotional role.
“It brought back old memories from another era – basically back to the beginning of my pro career,” said the 77-year-old Chuvalo.
Les Woods, Global Legacy Boxing’s promoter, said it was imperative to stage the event with the former Canadian champion at the location of his most famous fight.
“A year ago when I made the decision to do this event, there was only one choice – to bring it back to the Holy Grail. I felt that if I was going to create a platform, to [move forward] the culture of boxing, we should bring it back to the past,” Woods said. “[Having Chuvalo on board] made everything. With the winning legacy that he brings, the greatest Canadian heavyweight – without him, this building doesn’t mean as much in the boxing community.”
While the event was previously criticized by some for featuring two somewhat unestablished fighters in the championship bout, neither disappointed – with an exciting seven-round bout that had seven knockdowns. Carman, from Madoc, Ont. (near Belleville) seemed to have a hometown advantage over his Quebec-based opponent, with the crowd frequently chanting “COUN-TRY, COUN-TRY.”
“The heavyweight champion of Canada, can you believe that? Just a little kid – a fucking nobody – from Madoc, there’s 1,300 people there,” said Carman after the fight. “All I remember looking and seeing him OUT. I was like, ‘it’s over. Thank God. Give me that belt.’ I hope that we put on a show for [the audience], for the television viewers, because there’s been a lot of great fights held in this building, so I hope we kept that tradition going.”
The former champ was impressed.
“Was [the fight] action-packed? Sure it was,” said Chuvalo. “You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that.”
Notable patrons included Toronto Raptors Bruno Caboclo, Tyler Hansbrough and Lucas Nogueira.
According to Woods, Global Legacy Boxing will return to the MAC for its second event on April 11, 2015.