ANDY GARDINER has never been afraid to take on a challenge, no matter how long the odds.
And the Winnipeg boxer, who now trains in Ottawa, is about to face the biggest test of his young career. Gardiner, (10-0 with six knockouts) has agreed on short notice to step into the ring against Quebec-based Colombian Eleider (Storm) Alvarez (13-0, 8 KOs) in a battle of unbeaten light-heavyweights this Saturday at Montreal's Bell Centre.
Alvarez (13-0, 8 KOs) was originally scheduled to face undefeated South African fighter Thomas Oosthuizen but that fight fell through when Oosthuizen was dropped by his promoter.
Alvarez is ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and No. 3 by the World Boxing Association (WBA).
"I would take this fight for free in front of nobody," said Gardiner, who continues to win fans with his no-nonsense, stand-in-the-middle-of-the-ring approach. "I just want to beat the best fighters available. I'm coming well prepared and I'm coming to steal the show. I don't care if it hurts. It will hurt him more."
The fight will serve as a co-feature on a triple-header headlined by the long-awaited showdown between former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal and former super middleweight title-holder Lucian Bute, both of whom are based in Montreal.
Bomber legend dies
THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers have lost one of their greats. Steve Patrick, who played for the Bombers from 1952-64, died on the weekend at the age of 82.
A member of the Bomber and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fames, Patrick played in six Grey Cups, winning four, was a two-time All-Star (1958 and 1959), the Bombers' top lineman in 1958, the team's Schenley Award nominee as Best Canadian in 1957 and played in CFL All-Star Games in 1957 and 1958. He was also the team's captain from 1961-64.
After football, Patrick turned to politics and was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in 1962 and re-elected in 1966, 1969 and 1973.
Gill, Coombs opening eyes
UNIVERSITY of Manitoba Bisons Evan Gill and Anthony Coombs have jumped into the Top 10 of the CFL's Scouting Bureau list for the 2014 CFL Canadian Draft. Gill, a defensive lineman, is ranked sixth, and Coombs, a running back, comes in at the ninth spot.
The 21-year-old Gill was a 2013 Canada West all-star and will suit up for the West Team in this weekend's 2014 East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
This past season Gill finished with 28.5 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for losses, three sacks, two pass break-ups with one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
Coombs, 21, has been named Canada West all-star for three consecutive seasons and also a two-time CIS First Team All-Canadian and once a CIS Second Team All-Canadian. In 2013 he led Canada West in all-purpose yards with 1,696 while finishing second in conference rushing yards at 1,015. In addition, he was second with 11 overall touchdowns and ninth with 509 receiving yards in 2013.
Fish secure Sadler
WINNIPEG Goldeyes manager Rick Forney will be able to write veteran outfielder Ray Sadler onto his lineup card again in 2014.
Sadler, 33, is a former Major Leaguer with the Pittsburgh Pirates who was acquired from the Kansas City T-Bones last season. In 59 games with the Goldeyes last summer, he hit .313 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI. Overall, he batted .276 with 21 home runs and 72 RBI in 100 games between Kansas City and Winnipeg.
"I love the way he plays and the way he carries himself as a true pro," Forney said in a press release. "He's been very productive in this league. Last year in the second half of the season he was as good as anyone in the league in terms of driving in some big runs, especially the last four weeks of the season. He was as important to our team as anyone that we had in terms of giving us a chance to compete for a playoff spot. We anticipate him driving in some more big runs for us in 2014."
The Clifton, Texas product has played pro ball for 14 professional seasons, reaching the majors with the Pirates in 2005. He appeared in three games for the Bucs and hit one homer in his eight at-bats. He has also had stints with the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays after being drafted by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 1999 MLB Amateur Draft.
The Goldeyes now have seven players signed for the 2014 season, including three pitchers and four position players.