By Gary Kingston
Berbick can still talk a very good fight
ALL IN FUN: Canadian heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick (left)
jokes with card girl Alexandra Janicek and Shane Sutcliffe at Tuesday media
conference promoting Friday's bout.
The sorry, yet bizarrely amusing, state of Canadian heavyweight boxing was
laid bare Tuesday.
It was hilarious. And sad. Entertaining. And embarrassing. Without a punch
even being thrown.
The scene was a False Creek-area sports bar where reigning champion Trevor
Berbick, nearing 50 and rambling incoherently at times, and young challenger
Shane Sutcliffe, loser of his last four fights, were promoting Friday
night's title match at the PNE Agrodome.
At one point, while the Jamaican-born Berbick was inside spouting loudly
(screaming, really) about American injustice, spirituality, Moses and the
dirt he has on notorious promoter Don King, Sutcliffe, who had stepped
outside for a decibel break, was asked what he thought of his opponent's
"I think Trevor Berbick is definitely a couple bricks short of a load," said
Sutcliffe. "I find him hard to even understand."
Join the crowd, Shane.
Among other topics Berbick disorderly discussed on Tuesday were these: His
knowledge of biblical history, the tapes he has on King and others in
boxing's hierarchy - "a bunch of crooks" - that could send them all to
prison, his vow to beat world champion Lennox Lewis; his desire to move to
Vancouver; Sutcliffe's suggestion that he "bring his pajamas because I'm
putting him to sleep."
"I don't want to go to sleep!" screamed Berbick. "I'm not ready to go to
bed! I want to fight! I want to have a good time!"
About the only thing flying faster than Berbick's gums Tuesday was the
hyperbole from the promoters. "The greatest Canadian sporting event in some
time," said one. "The Grey Cup of Canadian heavyweight boxing," said
Yeah, right. Only if CFL Hall of Famer Jackie Parker is coming out of
retirement next November to try to run through Kelly Lochbaum's tackles on a
frozen McMahon Stadium field.
Berbick, the one-time World Boxing Council heavyweight champion before his
life unravelled and he was flattened by Mike Tyson, won the Canadian title
in Montreal in February, 1999 with a 12th-round TKO of Sutcliffe, the
24-year-old Nanaimo product now living in Burnaby. The loss cost Sutcliffe a
spot on the undercard of the Lewis/Evander Holyfield fight; three subsequent
losses cost him a management contract with Montreal-based Interbox.
Sutcliffe says overconfidence and a lack of stamina hurt him the first time
against Berbick. It won't happen again, he says.
"I beat myself the last time we fought," said Sutcliffe. "If I had just
slowed things down and not gone for a knockout . . . I could have made it a
lacklustre, boring fight and won a decision. Instead I wanted to go out
there and be the next Mike Tyson. I was Interbox's hottest, youngest fighter
and I had too much pressure to look good.
"I'm going to win this fight and I'm going to win every damn round. I have
no doubt in my mind I'm going to make this fight look easy."
It ought to be. Berbick, with a listed record of 48-10-1, might be a wily
veteran, but he should be well past his prime. He won't confirm his age - "a
man is only as old as he wants to be" - but was listed as 49 in legal
documents entered in his December, 1999, successful appeal of a deportation
order. (He ran into immigration problems for prior criminal U.S. convictions
that included *** ***, burglary and grand theft.)
Berbick was at his bombastic, Ali-esque best on Tuesday, inviting camera
crews to get a close up of a face he claims has never been cut.
"Look at my skin, look at my face. I'm fresh because I'm well preserved.
I've found the mystery of how to stay young, how to stay sharp and to
"I will become the heavyweight champion of the world."
Sutcliffe, 24-10, made no similar boast. But then he's probably more
interested right now in just resurrecting his once-promising career, one
that will be left in tatters if he can't get by the aging Berbick on Friday
"People are starting to not believe in me," said Sutcliffe. "It doesn't seem
to matter to people that I've fought some of the best in the world (top
contender David Tua in his last bout).
"Now, I'm looking at the guy who started (his losing streak). He beat me a
year-and-a-half ago. I've done nothing to prove to anybody that I've gotten
better. So this is my chance to go out there and prove . . . I'm the best
fighter in Canada. I'm going to the Canadian heavyweight champion, I don't
doubt, for 10-12 years."
IN THE RING: Friday's 11-fight card starts at 7 p.m. with the first of eight
amateur bouts. The Berbick-Sutcliffe fight is scheduled for a 9:30 p.m.
start . . . Promoters say they have sold about 2,000 seats. Capacity is