By Michael Benjamin
Howard ‘The Battersea Bomber’ Eastman employed all the tricks in the book and eventually tamed Leon ‘The Lion’ Gilkes when they faced off in a catchweight affair at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall Sunday night last.
Eastman’s two-fisted attack had Gilkes at sea for the most part of the fight, underlined by the wide disparities on the judges’ scorecard. Bernard DeSantos scored the bout 99-91 in Eastman’s favour, while Trevor Arno and Lionel B. Sullivan replicated DeSantos’ decision by identical scores of 98-92.
Much was expected in the main preliminary bout that pitted Veronica Blackman and Lindener, Sharon Warde in a catchweight encounter. True to her word, Blackman unleashed a two fisted attack and avenged an earlier loss suffered at the hands of the Lindener. Judges DeSantos and Carlton Hopkinson scored the bout 60-55 and 58-56 for Blackman while Judge Sullivan awarded the fight to Warde 58-57.
The first fight of the night saw Kwesi ‘Mommy Golden Boy’ Jones winning by technical knockout over Patrick Boston. Referee Eion Jardine stopped the contest after Boston hit the deck twice. He rose on wobbly legs forcing Jardine to call a halt to the proceedings. The stoppage came at 1:55secs of the second frame.
Lightweight Cecil Smith earned the nod over Jermaine ‘Too Bad’ King in their four rounds lightweight encounter while debutant Anthony Augustin must have felt disappointed after spending most of the four rounds pounding away at Clyde Williams only for the fight to be deemed a draw. Winston Pompey revived his career with a majority decision over Eversley Brown in a four round catchweight contest.
Eastman gave the promoters a mini scare when he arrived at the venue complaining of pains to his foot, incurred after the completion of the weigh in exercise. The doctors worked feverishly to get the middleweight champion in fighting shape and were obviously relieved when he exited the dressing room when summoned for his bout. He did so to the strains of Bob Marley’s ‘Me ent know how me and dem ah gon work it out’ while Gilkes chose Cheryl Maloney’s ‘Don’t give up.’
The local middleweight champion greeted the first bell purposefully, pushing Gilkes back with some ramrod jabs. Gilkes retaliated with several swinging combinations that forced ‘The Battersea Bomber’ to cover up in the neutral corner. He managed to slip out and countered with several right crosses before the bell sounded.
Gilkes opened the second stanza with some venomous body punches. Eastman chose to block, apparently a ploy to tire the inexperienced Gilkes. Both fighters enjoyed bright moments during this round. Eastman scored with vicious right crosses while Gilkes responded with body blows.
Eastman stepped up the pace in the third round and ripped a savage right that landed near Gilkes’ left ear. He followed up with a wicked body dig that forced Gilkes to adopt a southpaw stance. An exchange of punches followed with both fighters giving as much as they took. By now, Gilkes appeared to be a little winded and resorted to his old ploy of lunging into Eastman. Most of his punches fell short of the mark as ‘The Battersea Bomber’ shuffled out of range.
As the fight reached its halfway mark, both fighters resorted to inside fighting. The referee was forced to break them apart on several occasions after prolonged periods of clinching.
The grueling pace of the fight saw Gilkes fading at the beginning of the sixth stanza. Eastman took the initiative and forced him into the ropes with several straight rights.
When the bell sounded for the 7th round, Eastman’s cornermen were still trying to get him freshened. This tactic forced the referee to issue a warning to Eastman. He shrugged aside the warning and purposefully advanced to his opponent. Thereafter, ‘The Battersea Bomber’ enjoyed target practice to an obviously tired Gilkes. Eastman landed punches at will to Gilkes’ head and body.
Round eight was a replica of the seventh. Eastman’s cornermen procrastinated, the referee issued a warning; Eastman apologized and then went out to resume the onslaught. It was around this time that the disparity in the fighters’ experience began to show. Gilkes had absolutely no answer for the wicked combinations served up by Eastman. It was evident that he was merely awaiting the bell. The chimes came as respite for him and it was evident that he must have wished that he were elsewhere.
The courageous Gilkes started the final round with flailing hands. Most of those punches landed in midair as Eastman slipped out of range and then scored with a straight right moments before the final bell sounded. All three judges, Bernard DeSantos, Trevor Arno and Cecil B. Sullivan scored in Eastman’s favour, 99-91, 98-92 and 98-92, respectively.
Shortly after the decision, Eastman admitted that he was hurt. “That guy hit me with an uppercut that really hurt,” he said. “He is a dangerous fighter but he needs to be a little more consistent,” Eastman said. Glikes acknowledged that Eastman was indeed the better boxer. “I should have used a little more jabs,” he said. Gilkes also promised to return to the gym to review his shortcomings.
Several notable personalities including Minister of Youth and Sports, Frank Anthony, President of the Guyana Olympic Association, K. A. Juman Yassin and former Women’s International Boxing association World Champion Gwendolyn O’Neil, witnessed the card.
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