All aboard for another year of fistic fury when Friday Night Fights resume
By Michael Benjamin
Two years ago boxing, the sport that has catapulted Guyana into the international sphere, was tottering on the ropes while the ‘third man’ tolled away the count.
The sorry state of affairs galvanized President of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) Peter Abdool into action and on February 26 2010 he contrived the Friday Night Fights, a once a month card that provided qualitative and quantitative activity for local amateur and professional pugilists.
Now, more than two years later the card is alive and well and activities will resume this month end with another scorching card to be announced very soon.
The uninitiated scoffed at the idea and projected a rapid death but to his credit the GBBC boss ignored the adverse comments and together with his competent executives fleshed out a foolproof plan to ensure the longevity and success of the programme.
It was perseverance of this nature that was responsible for the many fights witnessed in 2010 and more importantly, the advancement of a plethora of local professional pugilists graduating to the international scene where they are now poised to procure lucrative accolades.
When one reflects on the activities in the ‘square jungle’ and juxtaposes them with the attendance response, he/she might pronounce that they initiative was a failure.
However, consideration must be given to the fact that the fights attracted a live broadcast and has achieved the fundamental objective of taking the fights into people’s homes to enhance the interests which has dwindled considerably over the past decade.
More importantly, the activities of 2010 have set the stage for continuance in 2011 and last year’s activities have certainly laid the groundwork for another productive year in 2012. Several aspiring champions have enjoyed great benefits from the initiative including Kwesi ‘Lightening Struck Assassin’ Jones, Kurt Bess, Mark Austin, Edmond DeCleou, Elton ‘Coolie Bully’ Dharry, Pauline London and a host of others. Jones’ major successes came from his defeat of Howard ‘Battersea Bomber’ Eastman, Edmond DeCleou and Cleveland Fraser for the local light/heavyweight title.
It was the latter fight that really defined Jones’s ability yet it was that fight that uncovered his Achilles heel and paved the way for corrective strategies.
Bess has enjoyed a favourable run, avenging earlier losses to Anthony Augustin and Mitchell Rogers.
He knocked out both fighters, stripping Rogers of his local heavyweight crown while sending Cleveland Fraser bed and capturing the local cruiserweight belt.
His attempt to enhance his world status suffered a slight setback after he was stopped by Shawn Cox in December last year.
Despite the loss, Bess could be considered a part of the success stories that resulted from the ProAm boxing extravaganza.
Lindener, Edmond DeCleou has survived the vicissitudes, trained under adverse conditions yet overcame those challenges to end last year as the local middleweight champion after convincingly defeating former world rater, Howard ‘Battersea Bomber’ Eastman in October.
His meritorious rise to the top was supported by his frequent appearances on the ProAm cards supported by victories over Joel McRae, Troy Lewis and Patrick Boston. No one could dismiss the elevation to the top ranks and it is clear that once DeCleou continues along this vein and once the GBBC officials receive the requisite corporate and other support, 2012 could be the watershed of his career.
Mark Austin commenced his career on a winning note but stumbled in his three major tests against Revlon Lake and twice against Barbadian Miguel Antoine. This simply means that though he has received the requisite opportunities he has failed to capitalize.
However, Mark is still young in the business and could rebound from those losses. Luckily, the ProAm initiative could be the platform for the reactivation of his career and the continuance of his winning ways. It may be instructive to note that Austin has experienced frustrating moments and there are whispers that he is contemplating packing up his gears.
It is here that his coaches and mentors should intervene and some amount of counseling might be necessary to rescue this young and promising fighter.
Simeon Hardy is yet another fighter that has benefited from the ProAm cards and over the past year has instilled fear into the hearts of his adversaries.
Two fights have defined him to date, the Patrick Boston bout and the other against Winston Pompey.
He stopped both opponents with the Boston affair ending within 20 seconds to give him the record for the fastest knockout.
The Pompey fight was definitive since Hardy introduced the infamous ‘chin check’ a punch he proclaimed tested the veracity of the opponent.
Pompey failed dismally and Hardy’s left hook has since risen to notoriety. This should be an interesting year where he will be matched against tougher opponents who will also have a few chin checkers of their own. The year will also define Hardy’s boxing future.
Pauline London, Gwendolyn O’Neil and Sharon Warde are the three females that would have featured over the past year with London enjoying a prolonged run.
She brings a special kind of intrigue to the ring which might have been the reason for her frequent appearances.
She has engaged Warde in April, Veronica Blackman in August, Debbie Tyson in September and O’Neil in October.
There is a popular belief that humans are wont to ignore what they have and lament when it is lost. Many have regarded the ProAm initiative with indifference. Luckily, Mr. Abdool and other executives of the GBBC are fixed on the vision and have managed to convince several key corporate entities of the benefits to be derived from involvement. As such these entities must be commended for their participation notwithstanding the fact that the returns are slow to fructify. They include Courts, Hand In Hand Insurance, Castrol, Ansa McAl, Banks DIH Ltd and Digicel among others. Hopefully in 2011, members of the public will recognize the benefits garnered by the boxers, note the action packed encounters and come out in their numbers in support of the initiative.