Canada is not usually known for boxing, as other sports are played there. However, it doesn’t mean that there is no love for boxing there. A few of the greatest fighters in history have roots back in Canada.
Here at The Sportster, we figure since tomorrow is Thanksgiving in Canada, it’s time to show love to ten of the best fighters to leave their legacy in The Great White North.
10 Jean Pascal
Jean-Thenistor Pascal, better known as Jean Pascal, made his professional debut in February 2005, and would go on to hold the WBC, IBO, Ring magazine, and lineal light-heavyweight belts between 2009 and 2011, even competing for the WBC super-middleweight title in 2008. He also had the WBA light-heavyweight title from 2019 to 2021.
Pascal, who was 21-0 at the time, faced up against British boxer Carl Froch for the vacant WBC super middleweight title. Following his defeat, Pascal took on Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas on April 4, 2009, winning by fifth-round knockout to claim the vacant WBO Inter-Continental super-middleweight championship.
In June 2009, Pascal transitioned to the light-heavyweight category to take on WBC light-heavyweight champion Adrian Diaconu. Pascal prevailed in the contest and took home the championship following a unanimous decision. Later, in September 2009, Pascal made his maiden defense of his WBC light-heavyweight championship against the WBC’s seasoned Italian veteran Silvio Branco, and he successfully did so by stopping Branco in the tenth round. Pascal bid adieu to boxing in 2017 with a record of 32-5-1 (19 KO).
9 Adonis Stevenson
Though short, Adonis Stevenson’s career has been a classic one. In 2013, he knocked out Chad Dawson to win the WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal light-heavyweight belts. This victory earned him The Ring honors for Fighter of the Year and Knockout of the Year.
Stevenson was regarded as one of boxing’s toughest punchers at his peak. He was renowned for his quick hand speed and outstanding knockout power. He successfully defended the WBC and lineal belts 10 times over more than five years until suffering potentially fatal brain damage in his 2018 bout with Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
8 Donovan Ruddock
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, heavyweight contender Donovan “Razor” Ruddock held a high ranking. He was well known for his potent left hook and uppercut combination nicknamed “The Smash.”
In 1982, he turned professional and won his first 10 fights. His first loss came in the 11th bout when journeyman David Jaco stopped him. After that loss, however, Stevenson went on to win his next three fights before beating former WBA heavyweight champion Mike Weaver in August 1986.
In May 1986, Ruddock bagged the Canadian heavyweight title after knocking out Ken Lakusta in a single-round victory.
Ruddock returned to the ring in February 1992 after his non-title fight with Mike Tyson, stopping former WBA heavyweight champion Greg Page before knocking out Phil Jackson in four rounds in June to capture the vacant IBC heavyweight championship. After defeating Egerton Marcus in 10 rounds to claim the vacant Canadian heavyweight championship in 2001, Ruddock announced his retirement.
7 Jack Delaney
Born Ovila Chapdelaine, Jack Delaney was a heavyweight contender and the world’s light heavyweight boxing champion. He was well-known for his exquisite, nearly faultless moves in the ring. He was a skilled boxer with a swift and fluid left hand.
Delaney began his career as a professional in 1919, defeating Paul Berlenbach to capture the World Light Heavyweight Championship in June 1926. He did, however, give up his championship a year later without defending it to pursue a heavyweight career. Jimmy Maloney, a veteran heavyweight challenger whom Delaney was predicted to easily defeat, was his opponent. Delaney would have faced heavyweight champion Gene Tunney if he had prevailed over Maloney. With a record of 77 victories (44 knockouts), 12 defeats, two ties, two no decisions, and 2 no contests, Delaney retired.
6 George Chuvalo
George Chuvalo was a two-time contender for the heavyweight world title as well as a five-time Canadian heavyweight champion. Chuvalo was known for his endurance inside the ring as he was never knocked down by an opponent. Despite fighting 93 professional fights, which included bouts against some of the greatest boxers of all time — Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier — he fought until the last bell and lost his fights via decisions.
“Boom Boom” Chuvalo, a heavyweight boxer who entered the professional ranks in 1956, won a competition in Toronto that was put on by former world champion Jack Dempsey by knocking out four opponents in a single bout.
After first retiring in 1973, Chuvalo made a comeback in 1977 to challenge Bob Feldstein for the vacant Canadian Heavyweight Championship. Chuvalo won the championship for a fourth time after knocking Felstein out in the ninth round. Chuvalo won his next two fights via knockout before officially retiring.
Chuvalo racked up a 73-18-2 record throughout his 21-year career, including 64 knockout victories.
5 Jimmy McLarnin
At age three, Jimmy McLarnin moved to Canada with his family from Ireland. Both of McLarnin’s fists were incredibly powerful, but his right one was the most dreaded.
In May 1928, McLarnin lost his first attempt at winning the championship against world lightweight champion Sammy Mandell. He did, however, manage to defeat him twice over the next two years. McLarnin faced welterweight champion Young Corbett III in his second title defense. With almost three minutes into the bout, McLarnin won through knockout.
After winning the title, McLarnin faced Barney Ross in a thrilling three-fight series. Ross prevailed in the first contest, which took place on May 28, 1934, but McLarnin reclaimed the championship in the fight that followed four months later. On May 28, 1935, McLarnin lost his title in the decisive match by a razor-thin margin.
McLarnin won his final two fights against legends Tony Canzoneri and Lou Amber and retired in November 1936 still at the peak of his career.
4 Samuel Langford
Many boxing historians rank Samuel Langford, termed “The Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows,” as one of the sport’s all-time best fighters. Known as “The Boston Bonecrusher,” he competed in weight classes ranging from lightweight to heavyweight, where he beat several legends and world champions of the day. Langford was ranked No. 2 by The Ring on their list of the “100 greatest punchers of all time.”
Due to the color barrier and Jack Johnson’s unwillingness to challenge him in a rematch, the first African-American world heavyweight champion was denied the opportunity to compete in numerous world championships.
Langford also defeated the then-lightweight champion Joe Gans in a non-title fight. Gans was the first African-American world champion in boxing history and is recognized as one of the all-time greats. Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight champion, claimed a matchup with Langford and other black heavyweights wouldn’t bring crowds because white champions had drawn the color line. He thus never received a title.
3 Tommy Burns
The only World Heavyweight Boxing Champion who was born in Canada is Tommy Burns. Burns completed 13 championship defenses against 11 different fighters, becoming the first to defend his title while traveling the world, despite frequently being the underdog owing to his stature. Burns defeated every opponent he faced as heavyweight champion, which led to his illustrious fight with the American-born Jack Johnson.
Burns finally consented to a battle with Johnson in December 1908 after months of postponing the arrangement, making him the first boxer to accept a heavyweight title match with an African-American. Burns lost his championship in the Sydney match. In the 14th of 20 three-minute rounds, the fight was declared over because Burns was unable to continue and failed to strike a punch.
He became the first Canadian to win the heavyweight world championship in 1906 by defeating Marvin Hart. After his loss against Johnson, he didn’t stop fighting until 1920.
2 Arturo Gatti
One of the most thrilling boxers in history was Arturo Gatti. Known as “The Blood and Guts Warrior,” Gatti achieved world titles in two separate weight divisions. Gatti went professional at the age of 19 after competing for Canada in the 1991 World Junior Championships in Peru.
In 1995, Gatti defeated Tracy Harris Patterson to win the IBF Junior Lightweight Championship, becoming the first person to hold the championship. Gatti had to stand up during his first defense against Wilson Rodriguez’s six thrilling rounds. Following three successful championship defenses, Gatti gave up the belt in 1998 and switched to lightweight.
After losing three exhausting battles in a row, several urged Gatti to retire, but he continued. He went up to junior welterweight and won four straight fights before Oscar De La Hoya outclassed him at welterweight and stopped him. Moreover, Gatti’s trilogy with Micky Ward remains one of the great rivalries in boxing history. The two squared off in their first clash in 2002 when Irish Micky beat Gatti via a majority decision. The fight was termed the Fight of the Year by the Ring magazine. Later that year, in their second bout, Gatti managed to get revenge for his defeat in the first bout, beating his opponent in another thriller. Gatti and Ward engaged in their trilogy fight in June 2003. Early on, the Candian boxer repeatedly threw punches at Ward, but the latter came back and eventually knocked Gatti out in the sixth round. The bell signaled the end of the round before Gatti could stand up or the referee’s count reached 10. Gatti was able to recover and triumph over his opponent via a unanimous decision.
In 2005, Gatti faced off against the esteemed Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his third defense. Mayweather thoroughly controlled the fight until Gatti’s corner stopped it after the sixth round, and Gatti was no match for him. After being defeated by Alfonso Gomez, Gatti announced his retirement in 2007.
1 Lennox Lewis
Lennox Lewis is one of the greatest fighters in the modern history of boxing. Born in England, he moved to Canada at the age of 12 and won a Gold medal for the latter at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
Lewis won several regional heavyweight titles in his first three years as a professional, including the European, British, and Commonwealth titles. He fought Donovan Ruddock in 1992 to become the number one fighter in the WBC rankings after winning his first 21 professional matches.
Lennox had a dream start to his professional career as he won his first 22 professional bouts. He was scheduled to face Riddick Bowe for the WBC Heavyweight title. However, Bowe vacated the championship rather than challenge Lewis, and the latter was crowned the new champion.
Moreover, Oliver McCall shocked him by defeating him after he had defended his championship three times.
Later, in February 1997, Lewis exacted his retaliation and regained the WBC Title by halting McCall in the fifth round.
It is worth noting here that Lewis defeated every boxer he came in contest with. He is one of only three world heavyweight champions to have defeated every professional opponent he faced, the other two being Rocky Marciano and Ingemar Johansson.
Lewis announced his retirement in 2004 while still holding the title of real heavyweight world champion. He finished his career with a record of 41 victories (32 by knockout), two defeats, and a draw.