Ottawa boxer Andy Gardiner burst onto the professional boxing scene only 20 months ago. In his 10 bouts to date, he has consistently taken steps up in competition to better his craft when most fighters are more concerned about protecting their records and building KO ratios. When it was announced this past week that undefeated Thomas Oosthuizen, 22-0, was out of the fight with Eleider Alvarez on January 18, Gardiner wasted no time offering his services to face the WBA ranked #2, WBO ranked #3 light heavyweight in the world.
Gardiner is not just here for a paycheck, the cool factor, or being part of a historic card headlined by the much anticipated Lucian Bute vs. Jean Pascal main event. “I would take this fight for free, in front of nobody,” the clearly motivated Gardiner said. “I don’t care about all that. That’s up to my team to worry about those things. 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. I will hurt him more.”
“Andy isn’t like most fighters,” explained Gardiner’s promoter Camille Estephan, CEO of Eye Of The Tiger Management (EOTTM). “He constantly asks for these types of fights. We could easily take no risks, slowly building him to 20 or 25 and 0 before fighting at this level, but he doesn’t want that because Andy is a real fighter who wants real fights. That’s what really separates him from the rest and that’s why we love him.”
None the less this is a risky business and a risky fight that most boxing fans across North America want to see, probably the biggest fight on the card after the main event. Something that Gardiner’s trainer, Eric Belanger, certainly wants to see. “It’s not a risk at all,” he added. “The risk is all on their side. For Andy, it’s an opportunity. We were in shape, on weight, and we have nothing to lose. So, we don’t see this as a risk. It’s an opportunity that Andy will seize. He is a man possessed in the gym right now and I can promise you he is coming to win no matter what he has to endure. I rarely get truly excited but I can’t wait for this one to be on.”
If you have seen Gardiner fight before, or even had to chance to speak with him, he is hard not to love. He is a simple, nice guy who is willing to go toe-to-toe with anyone, anytime, anywhere for the sake of putting on a show all boxing fans can thoroughly enjoy. Win, lose or draw, his heart and willingness is something that should be embraced by all to get behind Gardiner. Too often prospects are built up without any real opposition and fans continually criticize them for. So, when Andy Gardiner enters that squared circle at the Bell Centreand puts everything on the line on Jan. 18, people there in attendance are encouraged to stand on their feet and make noise for the underdog story fans all love to witness.