December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Just about everything you need to know about Andy Gardiner -- a Winnipeg light-heavyweight who is opening eyes literally and figuratively on the Canadian boxing scene -- and his approach to his craft can be found on the tattoos displayed on his shoulders and arms.
There you will find likenesses of Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Jake LaMotta and Rocky Marciano -- four of the toughest hombres to ever climb into the ring. And Gardiner, who is 7-0 heading into Friday's bout in Gatineau, Que., with veteran Emiliano Cayetano (21-5 with 12 KOs), is doing his damndest to take the same approach as his sweet-science idols.
"I'm not a slick boxer by any means," said Gardiner this week from Ottawa, where he now trains. "I think I have a pretty good defence but, I'll be honest, I do get hit a little bit. I take a few shots, give a few shots.
"I move forward and I throw punches."
Or as the analysts who called his last fight on pay-per-view aptly described him, Gardiner throws punches in bunches and is "all action, all pressure, all the time."
"I think it's entertaining," Gardiner added with a chuckle. "I love when the crowd gets into it. I love when the crowd gets into a good show."
Gardiner has been doing a lot of that since turning pro last year. A two-time Canadian amateur champion, the Fort Richmond Collegiate product has banged out seven straight wins in 377 days. And those Ws have hardly come against a collection of tomato cans and ring patsies. His last fight was a unanimous decision over Konstantin (The Volga Cossack) Piternov, who was "officially" 13-2.
"A lot of guys when they first start out will take some easy fights to build their record," said Gardiner. "I told my manager I don't want to pad my record. I want to make my way to the top fighting good guys. I also find I perform a lot better against guys who are good and not guys who are just brought in for me to beat.
"The last guy, the Russian, was a real step up for me. He was good. He was tough and he was everything we expected. It was a little bit deceiving because when we first signed the contract to fight him we knew his record was 13-2. But when we looked for videos of him, we found a whole bunch of recent fights that weren't recorded because they weren't sanctioned.
"I guess in Russia they have these tough-man competitions where they just fight for 12 minutes straight. It's professional, they get paid but it's unsanctioned. He was more like 20-2. That didn't bother me."
Ditto for Friday's matchup with Cayetano, the veteran Dominican. Asked for a scouting report on his next opponent, Gardiner offered this:
"I don't know much about him. We can't really find any video on him, but that doesn't mean too much to me. I don't really care at the end of the day. I know he's got two arms, two legs and he's only human.
"My game plan is to just go in there, not let him get into a rhythm and take the fight to him right from the first bell."
Gardiner was drawn to the ring after playing hockey in St. Norbert and Fort Richmond. When he was 16 his father Brad brought him to the Crescentwood Boxing Club to work with Stuart Sutherland.
And since the very first day he slipped between the ropes, he was hooked.
"I've been in the gym nonstop since I was 16," said Gardiner. "Even after fights when I should take time off I don't know what I'm supposed to do with myself so I just go to the gym. I like to be in the gym. It's been part of my life for so long I really don't know anything else.
"I wish I could fight in Winnipeg again but there just aren't any pros there anymore. So in order for a promoter to put on a fight they've got to bring in fighters from everywhere and it's expensive.
"But I'm excited for this next fight," Gardiner added. "Right now I'm an unpromoted guy. It's a little more difficult financially, but in the long run it will be better because once I build a good record it gives me more bargaining power with better promoters.
"And what I want right now more than anything is a world title. That's what I'm chasing."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2013 D5