Best of the Canadian Cruiserweights
by Dave Baggs, FightNews Canada
2011-10-14

Since the creation of the Cruiserweight division in the mid 80's, the division has struggled to find respect and consistency since. While Evander Holyfield and Juan Carlos Gomez did create some excitement and interest within the division, both departed for the heavyweight division, leaving the division in search of its next saviour. While no Canadian has been able to capture any of the 4 major divisional titles (WBC, WBA, WBO, or IBF), the country have produced many quality cruiserweights who have sat among the division's best during their careers. Dale Brown, Troy Ross, Bobby Gunn, Donnie Lalonde, and Roddy MacDonald, just to name a few, have all challenged (unsuccessfully) to become world champions. Today Canada continues to produce some good quality jr. heavyweights since the division was created 26 years ago, but who is or has been the best so far? FightNews has compiled a list of what we think are the best 5 cruiserweights the nation has ever produced....

#5.
WILLARD LEWIS

Career: 1994-2010
Record: 17-23-3, 9 knockouts
Titles:
Canadian Cruiserweight champion

Why is he ranked here?
Stop rolling your eyes or laughing and just listen. Before Lewis became cannon fodder for just about everyone he climbed into the ring with, he was once an undefeated, world ranked contender. Lewis reeled off 16 straight victories to start his pro career including an impressive 3 round demolition of Dean DeLuca to win the Canadian Cruiserweight crown. In 1999, Lewis was rewarded with an opportunity of a lifetime, a WBO championship bout against a very beatable champion in Johnny Nelson. This bout was the pinnacle in Lewis' career however the Hobbema, Alberta fighter was unable to cash in on his opportunity and stopped in 4 rounds by Nelson which started a spiral downward which Lewis would be unable to recover from. Just 2 bouts later Lewis dropped his title to Dale Brown and would spend the remaining 10 years taking on the best Super Middleweights, Light Heavyweights, and Cruiserweights the country had to offer. Although Lewis always came to the ring in shape and prepared, he would consistly fall short and end his career on a 20 bout winless streak.

What could he have done better to be ranked higher?
A victory over Nelson to start and a single defense of his Cruiserweight crown for another. Maybe a victory or two over one of the many prospects he faced would have changed things for Lewis. As the next generation of Canadian Cruiserweights work towards making their mark, Lewis position at #5 could be/probably will be in jeopardy.

#4.
DONNY LALONDE

Career: 1980-2003
Record: 41-5-1, 33 knockouts
titles:
Canadian Light heavyweight title
WBC Continental Americas Light heavyweight title
WBC Light heavyweight champion

Why is he ranked here?
Most of the original Golden Boy's success came at Light heavyweight (see: titles). However, he did have a nice little run at Cruiserweight which translated into an opportunity at the division's WBA title. After losing his title to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1988, Lalonde took off the next 3 year until the lure of boxing called him back. Campaigning as a Cruiserweight, Lalonde put together 4 straight wins to earn himself a shot at Bobby Czyz's WBA strap. Lalonde dropped the decision to Czyz but hardly embarrased himself in the process. Following another 4 year hiatas, Lalonde made his 3rd comeback to the ring posting a 6-0-1 record in 7 bouts. This lead to a bout of former (and faded) world Light heavyweight champions when he faced off against Virgil Hill. Hill still had a little "QuickSilver" left in his gloves and left Winnipeg with the decision and Lalonde retired for good. At Cruiserweight, Lalonde posted a 10-2-1 record with 7 knockouts. Good enough for spot #4.

What could he have done better to be ranked higher?
A victory over Czyz or Hill would have certainly helped. While Lalonde's comebacks goals aimed rather high, the national title at Cruiserweight was definitely in his abilities and grasp. A bout against Brown would have been great for Canadian boxing fans.

#3.
RYAN HENNEY

Career: 2003-Present
Record: 17-3, 9 knockouts
Titles:
2 time Canadian Cruiserweight champ
NABA (Canada) Cruiserweight champion

Why is he ranked here?
No Cruiserweight possesses the whiskers of "The Hitman". Henney has eaten plenty of leather over the course of his 8 year career and he continues to march forward relentlessly. His heart, iron chin, and will to win are without equal. In just his 4th pro bout, he battled James Cermak punch for punch in a war of wills and heart. Henney finished on his feet and had his moments but ended up on the wrong end of the decision. Three fights later, Henney took everything heavy handed Bengaly Kourouma had to offer over 9 rounds and stopped the Toronto fighter in round 10 to capture the national title. The Saskatoon fighter put together 6 more wins including a title defense victory over Cermak. He dropped his title to Frank White but regained it 4 fights later. He recently defeated Jason Douglas over 10 round to retain his crown in a fight of the year candidate for 2011.

What could he have done better to be ranked higher?
Just keep doing what he's doing, facing the best Cruiserweight that the country has to offer. While it is hard to envision Henney fighting for a world title, a few more successful title defenses against the next generation of Canadian Cruiserweights could move him up a notch should Ross be unable to take it to the next level.

#2.
TROY ROSS

Career: 2001 - Present
Record: 24-2, 16 knockouts
Titles:
Canadian Cruiserweight title
British Commonwealth Cruiserweight title
'The Contender' Season 4 Champion

Why is he ranked here?
Probably the most talented Canadian Cruiserweight ever. Blessed with skill, quick feet, and power, Ross has all the tools to become a world champion. Ross had the IBF title within his grasp when he dropped Steve Cunningham hard in found 4 of their championship encounter back in June 2010. Cunningham got up and Ross sufferred a nasty gash on the eye lid which led to a stoppage defeat a round later. Ross, currently ranked among the worlds best, is awaiting another opportunity at Cunningham which may never come. At age 36, time may be running out.

In addition to winning the national and British Commonwealth titles, Ross gained plenty of exposure when he captured the TV show "Contender 4" championship held in Singapore, stopping 3 of 4 opponents along the way. Ross also works as an actor having worked in movies such as Cinderella Man and Ressurecting the champ to name but a few.

What could he have done better to be ranked higher?
Simple, win a world title. Should Ross be able to capture a world title, he could userp Brown as the best Canadian Cruiserweight ever.

#1.
DALE BROWN

Career: 1995-2007
Record: 35-6-1, 22 knockouts
Titles:
2 time Canadian Cruiserweight champion
2 time NABF Cruiserweight champion
NABA Cruiserweightg champion
NABO Cruiserweight champion

Why is he ranked here?
"Cowboy" Dale Brown retired with the moniker "the uncrowned IBF Cruiserweight champion". Back on May 20th, 2005, Brown outboxed, out-thought, and simply outclassed O'Neill Bell over the course of their 12 round bout to determine who would be crowned as the new IBF Cruiserweight champion. All that was left to do was here the official decision. What came next was injustice as 3 inept judges scored the bout 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113 in favor of Bell. The surprise look on Bell's face and those faces in his corner said it all. Over the course of his 12 year pro career, Brown would be ranked as a world contender and battle for world honours (albeit unsuccessfully) on 3 separate occasions. Amongst his many victories, he defeated former world champions in Robert Daniels (a former WBA Cruiserweight champion) and Leslie Stewart (a former WBA Light heavyweight champion). He defeated ranked contender in Brian LaSpada, Art Jimmerson, Mike Peak, and Rich LaMontagne and looked utterly dominant against fellow Canadians Dave Fiddler and Willard Lewis. All that was missing to complete the Brown career was simple justice.

What could he have done better to be ranked higher?
Very little. Unless someone manages to win a world title (Troy Ross), Brown's perch will remain safe.