Al Delaney was the Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Champion. During a ten-year professional career in the 1930s and ’40s, he shared the ring with several formal world champions, including Joe Louis.
Delaney was born Alex Borshuk in Oshawa, Ontario, on June 14, 1916.
By his teenage years, Borshuk was living in Windsor. He attended Windsor-Walkerville Technical High School, where he competed in throwing events as a member of the school’s track and field team. In particular, he won WOSSA gold in the shot put in 1931.
Borshuk took to boxing at an early age, training in Windsor under Harry Davis and Patsy Drouillard. He began fighting on the amateur circuit as a 15 year old.
In 1934, Borshuk turned professional. He was 18 years old.
Borshuk won his first nine bouts in Detroit before facing off against Joe Louis at a packed Detroit Naval Armory. Although Louis won the fight, Borshuk landed a vicious right that broke one of Louis’ molars. It is said to have been the hardest blow Louis ever absorbed in a boxing ring. After the fight, Louis admitted that he came much closer to losing than the boxing world assumed.
Following the fight, Borshuk began to fight under the name Al Delaney, which he kept for the remainder of his career.
Delaney defeated Terence “Tiger” Warrington on May 24, 1941 in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia to capture the Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Delaney’s victory came via unanimous decision following a grueling 12-round contest.
Over the course of his career, Delaney fought several opponents with ties to world boxing titles. He fought to a draw with George Nichols, the World Light Heavyweight Champion, in 1932. In 1935, he also drew with Tommy Loughran, who had held the same title from 1927 to ’29. The following year, he easily defeated “Two Ton” Tony Galento, who would later (in 1939) enjoy a World Heavyweight Title fight with Joe Louis. In 1940, he defeated Gus Lesnevich, the World Light Heavyweight Champion from 1941 to ’48, in an eight-round bout in Brooklyn. Lesnevich also went on to fight Ezzard Charles for the Heavyweight belt in 1949. In 1944, Delaney fell to Freddie Mills, who would go on to hold the World Light Heavyweight title from ’48 to ’50. He also shared the ring with Buddy Baer and Bob Pastor, both of whom contested the World Heavyweight crown with Joe Louis.
Delaney hung up his gloves in 1944 at the age of 28. He left boxing with a career record of 48 wins and 29 losses.
Al Delaney passed away on April 25, 1994.