By Michael Benjamin
A crunching left hook slammed into the Mark Austin’s temple and deposited him on the canvass for the full count when he faced off with Barbados based Guyanese, Revlon Lake on the June edition of the monthly ProAm boxing affair at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) Friday evening last.
It was sweet revenge for Lake who dropped a unanimous points decision to the same fighter on a similar promotion in October last year. Added to the sweet taste of revenge, the Barbadian based Guyanese also carted off the vacant local lightweight title as well as bragging rights.
In action in the preliminary bouts, Simeon Hardy, known for his knockout propensity, lived up to pre-fight billing and floored Eversley Brown for the full count at 2:07 seconds of the first round of their middleweight encounter while Joel McRae stripped ‘Dangerous’ Denny Dalton of his seeming invincibility to capture a close split decision in their catchweight affair. Ray Sandiford was also in winners’ row, pummeling seasoned contender, Orlon ‘Pocket Rocket’ Rogers into submission to take a lopsided verdict in their 4 rounds catchweight shindig.
Lake, the older of the two pugilists by 12 years, also conceded a 2 pounds weight advantage and a reach advantage. He, however, claimed an advantage in height, measuring 5’ 7.5″ to Austin’s 5’ 2″. Both principals sported chiseled physiques and those knowledgeable of the sport immediately predicted an even, intense battle. Fighting out of a southpaw stance, Austin commenced his quest like a man on a mission. He danced around and unleashed a two fisted attack, but Lake was up to the challenge and responded with a few salvoes of his own. The Barbados based Guyanese also engaged in several clinches to control the pace of the round even as a super confident Austin pushed for an early victory.
Lake utilized the early stages of the second round to assert himself even as Austin advanced with blazing fists. Employing a tactical approach, Lake got on his bicycle minimizing the effects of his opponent’s piston like jabs and counters. Undaunted, Austin bided his time and picked up the pace at the start of the third stanza, firing away at Lake’s body and head. The latter fighter backpedaled, occasionally pausing to trade punches.
The real action commenced in round five when Austin drilled Lake with several jabs and right crosses, attempting to wear down his man.
The locally based pugilist then attacked his opponent’s body and head with several ramrod offerings. Lake managed to weather the storm and retaliated with a few salvoes of his own that pushed Austin backwards.
The effect of Lake’s blows began to show in the sixth round when Austin exited his corner sporting a tiny ‘mouse’ under his left eye and his face appeared bruised. He opted to fight in close and Lake, by now in full flow, decided to accommodate him. Austin slammed home a stiff right cross but Lake took it like a man and returned a heaping helping of his own. It was around this time that Lake began to wilt even as Austin pressed forward with several combinations that pushed him backwards. Lake appeared beaten as he returned to the corner with the pundits sensing an imminent end.
Surprisingly, Lake defied the odds and entered round seven with blazing fists. Austin must have been surprised by such resilience but he continued plodding forward and around midway of the seventh round, trapped Lake in the red corner and unleashed a two fisted attack. Lake adroitly slipped out of trouble and countered with a tame combination that thwarted Austin’s advances.
Both pugilists upped the ante and traded blows in the eighth round and around then it became evident that the man with the bigger heart and larger stock of ammunition would have prevailed. That might have been so, but up to that point of the fight the pundits were hard pressed to make the distinction as both fighters met the challenge head on.
Suddenly, in a demonstration of unbridled courage, Lake grabbed the initiative in the ninth frame and unleashed several combinations that rocked Austin who failed to match the onslaught. He did manage to stitch in a few isolated punches but the round clearly belonged to Lake who by now had started to look ominous.
Clearly buoyed by the results of the preceding round, Lake pressed forward at the sound of the bell to start the tenth stanza but was met by a game Austin who matched his every blow. Midway into the round, Austin began to wilt but when Lake attempted to seize the initiative his opponent sprang back into life resulting in vicious exchanges that sent the crowd into a frenetic crescendo.
When the bell sounded for the start of the eleventh round, Austin rushed out and delivered several wallops to his opponent’s body and head. Lake, by now in full flow, dished out a healthy serving of left hooks and straight rights. The vicious onslaught forced Austin into retreat mode yet he held a high guard to stave off the blows. Only this time, Lake pursued him relentlessly and dealt him several ramrod shots. Both boxers, apparently spent from the grueling battle, remained locked in a clinch. Suddenly, without warning, Lake broke free and lashed out with a left hook that connected to the side of Austin’s head. The force of the blow deposited Austin to the canvass even as the ‘third man’ directed Lake to the farthest neutral corner.
When the referee turned his attention to Austin, he was crumpled on the canvass in a dazed state. He attempted to beat the count but his rubbery legs refused to cooperate and when the referee reached ten, he was sitting on the canvas a bemused look decorating his countenance. The time was 1:37secs of eleventh stanza.
After Lake was declared ‘winner and new champion,’ Austin rose and staggered slightly, obviously still disoriented. The medical staff at the venue then suggested that he conform to a cursory examination but the fallen boxer, apparently still disoriented, resisted all attempts to place him on the stretcher. It took the better part of thirty minutes before Austin’s handlers, the medical staff, family and friends managed to cajole him onto the stretcher where the medical practitioners took control of the situation.
Meanwhile, Dalton attempted to bully McRae but the Trinidadian based McRae, who also enjoyed a height advantage, used his reach to keep the boring Dalton at bay. McRae even went on to floor Dalton early in the second frame but was unable to finish the job despite having Dalton on rubbery legs. Dalton recovered somewhat in the next round but try as he might, he could not counteract McRae’s slick movements supported by periodic onslaughts. No one questioned the split decision verdict in favour of McRae.
Brown’s presence in the ring never suggested permanence as Hardy rocked him from the onset and had him on the retreat. Predictably, a one two combination connected to Brown’s jaw and deposited him on the canvass where he remained for the full count. The time was 2:07secs of the first frame. Otherwise, Sandiford was forced to contend with an elusive target presented by a short Rogers who ducked and squirmed to avoid the former fighter’s blows. When he was not doing so, Rogers held on to Sandiford’s hands nullifying his punches. The unanimous verdict rendered by the judges was purely academic.
Friday Night Fights continue on Friday July 29 next with another scorching card to be announced soon.
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