Boxing promoters around the Caribbean have been inundated with challenges as they battle to procure worthwhile activity for the pugilists in their charge while at the same time attracting adequate crowd and corporate support.
It was this very challenge that President of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC), Peter Abdool, aspired to address when he launched ‘Guyana Fight Night (GFN),’ an 8 bout card of 4 professionals and a similar amount of amateur bouts.
While Mr. Abdool sought to positively affect the fortunes of his charges with the introduction of the GFN initiative, boxing officials in sister Caricom State, Jamaica, attempted a similar ploy with the introduction of ‘The Contender.’ That initiative got underway in 2011 as against the local GFN version which commenced one year earlier. It seems that the GFN cards are briefly on hold while ‘The Contender’ has gained some traction, to the extent that those promoters have extended invitations to their Caricom counterparts in several territories to participate in the 2014 edition of the tournament.
Consequently, a team of local pugilists left Guyana in March for a 16 weeks sojourn in Jamaica for the 4th edition of the now famous Contender Series. With the exception of former European Middleweight Champion, Howard ‘Battersea Bomber’ Eastman, who progressed to the semifinals stage before losing out to fellow Jamaican, Tsetsi Davis, the entire Guyanese contingent of Derek Richmond, Revlon Lake, Gladwyn Dorway and Gardiel Roberts all suffered defeats early in the championships.
Executive Producer of Wray and Nephew Contender, Mark Kenny, referred to the tournament as an amazing and special journey. He promised to continue with the promotion and revealed that next year activities will see middleweights battle for the prestigious accolade. This revelation has galvanized local boxing administrators into action and already, they have identified a team of local pugilists to commence training for the tournament in March next year.
The 8 man contingent will be led by former International Boxing Organization (IBO) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion, Gary ‘Superman’ St Clair, who is currently in Guyana on a short holiday from his Australia base. The other local boxers are USA based, Jermaine King, Suriname based, Winston Pompey, and Trinidad based Joel McRae. The team also includes Guyana jnr/middleweight champion, Mark Austin, Kelsey George, local light/heavyweight champion, Kwesi Jones, super/middleweight champion, Derick Richmond, and CABOFE middleweight champion, Edmond DeClou.
Jamaica has also identified a potential squad and Tsetsi Davis has already signaled his intention to move up the two divisions in order to participate. Devon Moncreif, another 2014 ‘Contender’ will also compete for honours in next year’s event. The Jamaican squad will also include Ramal Lewis, Richard Holmes, Kevin Hylton, Kemahl Russell and Miguel Raye. Canadian based Jamaican, Richard Rettey, has also confirmed his participation.
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