Venerable site played host to commonwealth cruiserweight title defence
A quick one-two uppercut-jab combo from Canadian cruiserweight Denton Daley, and his dazed opponent Sly Louis hit the mat like a sack of flour.
The energy was coursing through everyone’s body in the Masonic Temple that Sept. 9 night. And the Toronto lad who won was coated in a glaze of victory.
It was the stuff of legendary fights. The Frazier vs. Ali of Toronto in the last decade. The Joe Louis catching the eyes of revelers outside of Chicago’s Savoy Ballroom.
Perhaps I’m being a tad over-dramatic, but nobody ever read a boxing story that wasn’t full of purple prose, regardless if it was language or of swelling eyebrows, cheekbones or cauliflower ears.
Speaking of the Savoy, the Masonic Temple has something in common with that old venue. It’s attached to the elegance of organized, professional boxing.
There’s also the Blue Horizon, Sports Illustrated‘s pick for all-time best pugilist palace. But Toronto has more in common with the Windy City than the City of Brotherly Love.
Now this fight, and card, I saw in September was no amateur hour. It was professional boxing. Daley, the victor of the main card that night, is currently Canada’s Cruiserweight Champion and Commonwealth Cruiserweight Champion.
His victory over his visitor from the La Belle Provence, pasted a wide smile Les Woods’ face — the president and CEO of Global Legacy Boxing.
With him was his partner in crime, former heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis. Also in attendance were George Chuvalo, Donovan Bailey and TFC soccer star Dwayne Rosario.
“That elegance and sophistication is there,” Woods says, adding it is a TV friendly location.
There’s a challenge for boxing which ranks beneath lacrosse in popularity in the city. Woods is candid with some of the obstacles he and Lewis face.
“We’re competing with so many things,” he says. “Boxing, standing by itself, is something of the past.”
Boxing today has changed today. It’s a night of entertainment. So, when I sat tucked in the corner of the Temple, I watched musician Karl Wolf perform his rendition of Toto’s “Africa”. Then there was Dr. Draw closing out the night.
The Temple is once again hosting a boxing match Nov. 12, as a local business man has pitted fighters from Bay Street in Toronto (trained at Gleason’s Gym) against fighters from Wall Street in NYC.
There’s a long-standing tradition of fights, Woods tells me, and it was that history plus Savoy meets Blue Horizon vibe that drew him to the Temple.
“It was one of those things and you could just feel the energy immediately,” he says. “I turned to Lennox [Lewis] and I said, ‘I think we found our home’.
“I would make the Masonic Temple our home, that’s for sure.”
If only it could happen. I’ve never taken a shine to MMA, but boxing, that’s always been a hidden interest of mine.
I hope a little bit of professional sports can permeate the often benign world of midtown, and if we get to see some more brouhahas on the Davenport strip, why not?
“It fits in to exactly what we are,” Woods admits. “The glitz and glamour of world championship boxing in Toronto has found a home.”