24th edition Guyana Fight Night…Eastman averts knockout, but Hardy prevails in tactical affair
Caribbean Boxing Federation welterweight champion, Simeon ‘Candyman’ Hardy delivered a few ‘chin checkers’ but failed to put away a resilient Howard ‘Battersea Bomber’ Eastman, but nevertheless withstood a severe test to carve out a lopsided unanimous verdict when the two pugilists faced off in the 24th edition of Guyana Fight Night at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH), Friday evening last.
Iwan ‘Pure Gold’ Azore was also in winners’ row and earned a hard fought unanimous verdict over his nemesis, Troy Lewis, in their 6 rounds welterweight scrap, while Rudolph Fraser and Cassius Matthews battled to a stalemate in their 4 rounds super/featherweight bout.
James Walcott promised to teach Kelsey George a lesson in the fundamentals of the sport and did just that, waltzing off with a one-sided unanimous verdict in their 4 rounds, light/heavyweight scrap.
When the bell sounded for the first round, Hardy shuffled out and immediately attempted to make a statement with a few of his infamous ‘chin checkers.’ He soon found out that Eastman was not one to be deluded by his ploys and Hardy was forced to bide his time. Eastman, for his part chose to be defensive, stepping backwards while flicking an occasional jab in Hardy’s general direction. The pattern continued into the second frame when Hardy continued to push his man backwards with Eastman content to land a left jab and an occasional right cross.
Hardy came out with blazing fists at the beginning of the third frame and did launch a few salvoes but Eastman continued to deny him, electing to jab and move while firing the right cross which either fell short of the mark or sailed over Hardy’s head.
Hardy registered the first significant blow, a one two combination that forced Eastman to seek refuge in a clinch, in round four. Referee, Franklyn Brisport tore them apart but Eastman lashed out, forcing the ‘third man’ to deduct one point from his score for the illegal blow. Hardy pressed on and before the round ended, had connected with several salvoes that had Eastman reeling.
The fifth round saw Hardy, in a resurged effort, pushing his man backwards but Eastman called on his experience and matched his opponent’s every blow. Hardy still managed to take the round by dint of a sustained attack that lasted until the bell. Eastman responded in the sixth round with several ramrod punches that kept Hardy at bay and from all indications was Eastman’s best effort.
Hardy sported a little mouse under his right eye at the start of the seventh round and Eastman attempted to capitalize. He threw piston jabs and right crosses but Hardy refused to be daunted, coming back into the fray with some right crosses. For the first time in the fight also, Hardy attacked Eastman’s body forcing the ‘Battersea Bomber’ to cover up and then retreat. The latter boxer attempted to make amends in the eighth round and used his experience to tie up his man. It was also clear that Hardy still nurtured ambitions of putting his man away. Eastman continued to frustrate those efforts forcing Hardy to relinquish those ambitions. He commenced the ninth stanza with a different resolve, utilizing combinations and seemed resigned to the fact that Eastman was determined to finish the fight in an upright position.
Nevertheless, Hardy’s ambitions of a knockout seemed to be revitalized when the bell sounded for the final round. He started the session with several vicious right crosses but Eastman nullified his power by stepping backwards and at times tying him up. This ploy failed to deter Hardy who pursued his man and scored with wicked right crosses right up to the final bell. The margin of defeat was decisive as evidenced by the scorecards. Carlton Hopkinson scored the bout 96-94, while Clairmont DeSouza and Lionel B. Sullivan saw it 98-91 and 95-94 respectively, all in favour of Hardy.
Walcott, intent on making good on his pre-fight boasts, rushed out and dealt George two wallops to his temple. The Berbician apparently felt the weight of his opponent’s hands and elected to box around while looking for the openings. When the bell for the second round sounded, Walcott continued where he had left off in the first stanza and shortly after the bell, connected with a wicked left hook to George’s head that sent the Berbician tumbling to the canvass. He returned to the fray and defied the odds with an aggressive approach which surprised Walcott and kept him at bay.
George demonstrated some grit when he entered the third round with flailing fists but Walcott, the taller of the two, utilized his jabs and right crosses to end the round as the aggressor. At the start of the fourth round it was evident that the activity of the preceding round had an effect on Walcott. He flicked out a jab while attempting to gain some respite. Luckily for him, George was also spent and became easy pickings for Walcott’s right crosses. The three judges, Andrew Thorne, Trevor Arno and Bernard DeSantos scored the bout 39-36, 35-30 and 35-30 respectively in favour of Walcott.
Azore experienced little or no problems with Lewis and romped home to an easy unanimous verdict. It was indeed commendable to see Azore, usually irrational and hot headed, applying himself to the task. He demonstrated patience which resulted in a far more structured approach and was more focused than in the two previous matches. He was eventually rewarded with a well deserved majority verdict. While judge Sullivan registered an even score (57-57), his colleagues, Francis Abraham and DeSouza saw it 58-56 and 60-54 respectively.
The Fraser/Matthews bout ended in a draw after both men enjoyed moments in the limelight. Matthews proved to be a puzzling proposition for Fraser who just could not find the right combinations to keep his man at bay. Matthews, not one to take unnecessary chances, spent the night dancing out of range and at times clinching right up to the final bell. Rawle Aaron scored the both 39-37 for Matthews while Hopkinson gave the nod to Fraser by a similar margin. DeSantos failed to break the stalemate with a score of 38-38.