Not done yet
By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun
The view Tony Pep has of his career is not that of a fading sunset.
Despite the fact that he is 36 years old and will make his 50th trip into
the ring Wednesday night at the Mayfield Inn, Pep actually feels reborn as a
professional fighter - the sun rising on a late-in-life resurgence.
Pep (41-7-1) will tangle with 20-year-old Mario Lechowski for the Canadian
lightweight title in what should be a lively brawl between opponents who
honestly don't care for each other. In the ring, it boils down to Pep's
seasoned experience versus Lechowski's youthful exuberance. Pep, a former
Canadian, Commonwealth and International Boxing Organization title-holder,
is usually a calm character, but Lechowski has raised Pep's ire with his
constant yapping on subjects ranging from the veteran's age to his past
First off, Pep answered the biggest question concerning a career that has
had significant peaks and valleys.
"It's always a question of whether Tony Pep's in good shape or not because
the talent's definitely there. I am in really good shape - the best shape
since the Floyd Mayweather fight," said Pep.
"The last two fights, after fighting guys like Justin Jukko and Mayweather,
it's hard to get up for a little eight-round fight. When there's no meaning,
no title, no anything, there's no get up and go, no enthusiasm. Big fights
is what I need from now on."
This qualifies as a big fight for Pep. He badly wants to shut Lechowski's
mouth once and for all, plus a convincing victory would get Pep back in line
on the world scene, perhaps for a Top-10 bout in the U.S. or another crack
at the Commonwealth crown.
First things first, however. Back in 1986, Pep had a similar feud going
with fellow Vancouver native Dale Walters. But this war is on a much greater
"It's worse because Mario's done nothing, has fought nobody, has no
punching power, has no background and has no respect," Pep spewed.
"He says he's going to knock me out. He's got three knockouts (11-2
"The only person that's ever stopped me is three-time world champion Tony
Lopez. I've fought three other champions since then and contenders and he's
the only guy.
"It's a con. Who's Mario knocked out? I've knocked out guys here."
To get in top-notch form, Pep called upon onetime Canadian Olympian and
former national champion Howard Grant, who put his new pupil to work in
Montreal. The move was of double benefit to Pep - getting him more suitable
training and sparring, along with taking him further away from associates of
the past who led him down troublesome, if not destructive, paths.
"The party's over," laughed Pep. "I'm older and more mature. I had my fun
and whatever. I'm taking it a lot more serious now. I'm in the gym training
every day and running and I feel good now.
"Nothing's in my way now from getting one more title shot. It's time to
make a move - not 95, but 100%."
Grant, a lean lightweight who fought alongside Lennox Lewis and Scott Olson
at the Summer Games in Seoul, put Pep under a strict regimen of training,
yet still had to come down *** his fighter on occasions when his head
and heart would wander.
"I had to be on his case a bit because sometimes he didn't want to work, to
get around the corners and cheat a bit," admitted Grant. "But he's ready to
go. He's trained hard," he said.
"Tony's still got some fight in him. If he didn't, I'd tell him he's shot,
but he's far from that."
Pep seems to have found that fine line between confidence and***iness for
his clash with the brash Lechowski. His prediction is a stoppage of
Lechowski, possibly early, but more likely into the later rounds since Pep
has gone 12 rounds nine times during his career while Lechowski has gone
into the eighth just once.
While most fighters won't look beyond their next scrap, Pep has a complete
workup of who's on his hit list.
The most intriguing situation that could present itself is a long-awaited
showdown with Montreal's Leonard Dorin in a title defence after which Pep
would call out Arturo Gatti for what could be a dramatic slugfest.
Not long ago, Pep picked up the nickname Kidfire. He's hardly a kid in this
game, but the fire still burns.