By Michael Benjamin
The widely held view that blamed the absence of regular ring activity on the poor quality of local boxers’ performance might have been endorsed when one peruses the positive spinoff of the monthly held Friday Night Fights. Several Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE) champions, a similar number of local titlists not to mention regular and productive activity is responsible for several local pugilists now perched on the threshold of international acclaim.
When the ProAm cards got underway in February 2010 with free live viewing and a negligible entrance fee, the naysayers dubbed the idea as ludicrous and pronounced an early death. Now, two years on, the initiative has generated much interest and already Simeon Hardy, the boxer that appears to have benefited the most from the initiative, stands on the verge of international acclaim following a successful tenure that dates back to October 29 2010 when he launched his professional boxing career.
Hardy had had mixed fortunes as an amateur boxer and had amassed a record of 43 fights with just four losses. During his illustrious tenure in the amateur ranks he has chalked up wins in the novices, intermediate and senior championships. He was also a golden gloves champion shortly before attaining his professional boxing license.
Hardy first came to prominence as a devastating puncher with a 20 seconds stoppage of Patrick Boston that had him doing a perfect imitation of the Lambada, a popular Brazilian dance. Hardy also removed Cassius Matthews, Winston Pompey and Julian Tannis (all in the 2nd round) and Eversley Browne (1st round). In his most recent fight he kept the tradition alive with a devastating 9th round stoppage of Iwan Azore. That victory was the ‘crowning’ moment of his career as he lifted the coveted CABOFE welterweight championship, in the process aligning himself for lucrative fights and purses in the very near future.
The World Boxing Council (WBC) is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and has arranged a lucrative tournament in commemoration of that feat. The tournament will comprise boxers within the 10 confederations under the auspices of the WBC of which Guyana is a part. Boxers competing in eight specific weight categories from within the 10 confederations will be engaged in at least four fights apiece among each other in 5 cities around the world.
May 1 has been identified as the commencement date of the tournament and participating boxers would be required to win at least 4 bouts in order to qualify for the finals of the championships. Winning the finals could net the boxer thousands of US dollars and a lucrative rating within the prestigious world body. It is this tournament that Hardy has set his eyes and his recent attainment of the CABOFE title puts him one step closer to the procurement of the accolade.
Hardy views the initiative as a once in a lifetime opportunity and has vowed to capitalize on it. Already, the knockout specialist is charting a course that will augment his chances of winning the championship. “I admit that this will be a world class championship that will test me to the fullest and so I am prepared to work exceptionally hard during preparations,” asserted Hardy. He said that he wishes to engage in at least one more fight, sometime in March, before venturing into the championships.
History is replete with pugilists that had endured many hardships which in the end turned out to be the catalyst to lucrative achievements. Hardy is no exception and admits that life outside the ring is no cakewalk. He lives in Sophia and earns his living as a sales clerk. Boxing was an automatic choice since he grew up admiring the feats of his two cousins, Wayne ‘Big Truck’ Braithwaite and Mark Dummett, during their productive years in the sport. He also said that his father, now residing in the USA, had been his pillar of strength and had suggested that he join the Forgotten Youth Foundation (FYF) boxing gym. He was then a 13 year old tot.
Today, some eleven years later, Hardy stands on the precipice of international stardom. He credits his advancement to the hard work of Joseph Murray and Sebert Blake, his two coaches that have been in his corner even before he stripped off his shirt. Hardy is also grateful for the hard work and commitment of President of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC), Peter Abdool and his hard working executive that was responsible for his recent elevation.
Hardy steps into the championships armed with the infamous ‘chin checker,’ a punch he had patented early in his professional career, that was responsible for 6 of his fights ending prematurely. Hardy also has a two years old son who he loves very much and acts as his inspiration. Amidst it all Hardy remains adamant that the Friday Night Fights has been an important catalyst towards his current status and for that he wishes to acknowledge the wisdom and efforts of its initiator, Peter Abdool.
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