By Michael Benjamin
When 25 years old Clive ‘The Punisher’ Atwell enters the ring on May 24 next against Johnny Gonzalez for the latter fighter’s World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title, he will be pitting his skill against a veteran whose reputation precedes him and though the Mexican is seven years Atwell’s senior, the Guyanese pugilist will be required to dig deep if he is to emulate the feats of his predecessors starting with Andrew ‘Sixhead’ Lewis, who stopped American James Paige in the 7th round to clinch
Guyana’s first world title.
The fight is scheduled for Alcapulco Guerrero, Mexico and Atwell, who currently resides in Dominica, has returned home and commenced training at the Andrew Lewis Boxing Gym, Albouystown under the watchful eyes of veteran coach, Lennox ‘Cappell’ Daniels.
Earlier in the week, Atwell engaged in preparatory works with several rounds on the heavy bag. He also engaged in shadow boxing exercises and calisthenics and from all appearances is committed to the job at hand.
While Atwell has oozed confidence at winning the fight and add to the rich local boxing legacy, the distinct difference in experience between him and Gonsalves cannot be ignored. Gonzalez is a veteran and has compiled a decent 63-8 record. He has registered 47 knockouts with a ratio of 74.6 percent. Atwell has an impressive 12-0-1 record and a flurry of late knockouts has improved his knockout ratio to a percentage of 53.85. While Gonzalez seemed to be the more experienced and while his record looms ominously, records and statistics can sometimes be misleading.
Yesterday morning Kaieteur Sport spoke with Atwell at his Agricola residence and he said that he is in great mental shape and working assiduously to attain a similar level of physical fitness. He said that he has been following the career of Gonzalez ever since he (Atwell) had been informed of the possible matchup.
The fight is somewhat fortuitous since Gonzalez who won the title from Elio Rojas on points in April 2012, was initially slated to defend against Abner Mares. Those two had engaged in an earlier bout in August last year where Gonzalez had prevailed after he stopped Mares in the first round to retain his title. They were set for the second encounter when Abner incurred an injury to his ribs during training and was forced out of the fight paving the way for the Atwell encounter.
Atwell’s last fight was against Jamaican, Glenroy Beckford, on Oct 14 last whom he knocked out in the second round. Before that he had disposed of Rudolph Fraser and won the local featherweight title before taking on Revlon Lake for the local lightweight title. He then disposed of Trinidadian, Prince Lee Isidore for the Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE) title and was on the verge of accruing the imminent bout. “I have noted that Gonzalez seems to be quite a force but I am already in training and plan to give this fight all that I’ve got,” Atwell intimated. Indeed the Mexican pugilist is a force to be reckoned and is as tough as nails.
He won the title a after a bruising fight with Elias Rojas and successfully defended several times. In his defence against Daniel Ponce DeLeon, Gonzalez was floored in round 8 from an accidental head butt that opened a cut over his right eye. He rose from the canvass, shrugged off that injury and went on to win the fight on points. He also rose from the canvass and defeated another tough customer, Eusebio Osejo, in February last year even after a further point was deducted from his score for intentionally spitting out his mouthpiece to procure more time.
Atwell feels that though Gonzalez has experience he (Atwell) has the tools to take care of him. “I have seen tapes of my opponent and while I am not getting complacent I am sure I can take him on and relieve him of his belt,” a confident Atwell pronounced.
Should he achieve the feat, Atwell will follow in the footsteps of Lewis, Gwendolyn O’Neil, Vivian Harris, Gary St Clair, Wayne Braithwaite and Shondell Alfred. To date, sixteen Guyanese-born professional boxers have attempted such a feat with those mentioned above being successful.
To date Guyana’s record in the world championships arena could be dubbed meritorious and Atwell said that when the smoke is cleared he will add to the illustrious names that have distinguished themselves in the ‘square jungle.’
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