By Michael Benjamin
Despite the flair and fantasy associated to cricket boxing affiliates countrywide have always regarded the fistic sport as the leading discipline in regards to the quantity of promotions and the quality of the cards.
However, over the years, cricket administrators, both locally and internationally, have enacted certain strategies such as the 20/20 format that have bolstered the level of excitement of the ‘gentleman’s game’ thus adding much needed spice to the sport.
In the meantime, boxing was undergoing severe constraints, none more crucial and decisive than the paucity of promotional techniques. Intent on regaining lost ground, boxing administrators huddled in discussion and at the end of the exercise came up with several strategies towards a return to the status quo. Shortly afterwards the ProAm boxing initiative was born.
Even before the above mentioned initiative, professional boxing promoter, Carwyn Holland had started the year’s activities on January 29 with ‘New Years Beatings,’ a card headlined by the Gwendolyn ‘Stealth Bomber’ O’Neil/Sharon Ward catchweight scrap in which the former boxer prevailed.
Also on that card, local heavyweight champion, Mitchell Rogers bullied Anthony Augustin on his way to a lopsided points victory.
Several other professional pugilists also comprised that card but what was noteworthy was the fact that several of the country’s top amateur pugilists also comprised a part of the card. Simply put, the New Year Beatings witnessed the unofficial ProAm initiative where affiliates of the amateur boxing fraternity were afforded an opportunity to show off their talent on a professional boxing card.
As if on cue, President of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) and Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE), Peter Abdool launched the inaugural ProAm boxing card on Friday February 26.
This was an initiative with a different twist as Mr. Abdool collaborated with the National communications Network (NCN) to air live broadcasts of this card. Many opined that such a move was foolhardy because fans would rather stay in the comfort of their homes and view the fights rather that troop to the venue.
The meager support rendered to the initial promotions may have given some credibility to those contentions but the organizers are adamant that with patience and application the situation would undergo positive changes. Indeed there were a few cards that witnessed substantial support.
Interestingly, these cards comprised overseas based boxers the likes of Barbados based Guyanese pugilist, Shawn Cox. He first featured on the September edition of the card and earned a unanimous decision over Leon ‘The Lion’ Gilkes. Cox later followed up that victory with a 1:10secs shutdown of Anthony Augustin. He was to have returned for a November bout against a Venezuelan but that fight had to be aborted after negotiations with the Spanish fighter’s handlers broke down midway.
Local boxing buffs yearning for good competitive action got their hearts desire when a little, almost insignificant Venezuelan by the name of Breilor Teran faced off with multiple champion and world rated Leon ‘Hurry Up’ Moore.
Whether Moore underrated his opponent or whether his co-promotional activities affected his performance is still a hotly debated topic. What was evident is that the Guyanese pugilist never bargained for the stiff opposition from the Venezuelan. Moore was dropped on several occasions and the general consensus was that he had lost the bout.
The three judges did not agree. Andrew Thorne gave Moore the bout, 94-93 while Clairmonte DeSouza scored it 95-93, also in favour of the Guyanese pugilist. Francis Abraham decided that the efforts of both boxers deserved a 94-94 verdict. Controversy erupted and the fans were divided over the verdict.
Undoubtedly, the card of the year would have been the inaugural one at the Princess International Hotel Guyana promoted by head of Briso promotions, Ceon Bristol. The card was headlined by the Corrinne Van ryck DeGroot/Shondell Alfred return clash for the WIBA Bantamweight crown.
In that bout the ‘Mystery Lady’ backed up her pre-fight bravado, where she promised to eliminate the American Gladiator, with a clinical display that erased the controversy of the first encounter and left little doubt of her prospects for future advancement in the fistic sport.
Alfred demonstrated dexterity and power with a stunning knockout over DeGroot at exactly 1:23secs into the fourth stanza.
Gwendolyn ‘Stealth Bomber’ O’Neil was also in winners’ row on this card with a decisive points decision over Veronica Blackman, lifting her third world title, but this time in the heavyweight division. Also on that historic card, American world rater Hector ‘Machito’ Camacho (Jr) notched up a lopsided decision over Denny Dalton who was anything but ‘Deadly’ while Elton Dharry proved that he was indeed a ‘Coolie Bully’ when he literally bulldozed Orland Rogers who, try as he might, was unable to launch his ‘Pocket Rockets.’
There were several other cards for the year coupled with the happenings in the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA). Kaieteur Sport would relive those moments in a subsequent edition.
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