By Michael Benjamin
Come by bus or car
Come from near or far come along one and all
All roads lead to the Giftland Shopping Mall
When Clive Atwell and Dexter Gonsalves squared off at the Giftland Shopping Mall in October
last year for the vacant WBC FECARBOX lightweight title, the promoters were confident that patrons would come out in their numbers, not necessarily to render support, but to enjoy one of the better boxing matches for a long time in Guyana.
The naysayers doubted that the change of venue, as against the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall and the Princess Hotel, would have impacted on the crowd attendance. It turned out that those analysts were wrong and boxing buffs flocked the venue and got their money’s worth in a fight that is still the talking point among pundits.
Heartened by such a magnificent response, the organizers of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) have upheld the tempo and tonight an even bigger crowd is anticipated when two of the nation’s most exciting fighters take to the ring against Spanish foes out of neighbouring Venezuela.
Spanish fighters have always turned in top performances whenever they visit these shores. One would immediately remember Luis Resto who engaged the late Mark Harris in a fight that the Guyanese was winning right up to the 7th round when he made a silly tactical error and was clipped by a Resto left hook. Then there was the late, world rated pugilist, Patrick Forde who fought Cecil Fernandes in December 1979. The Spanish fighter was game and fought to the bitter end but just could not quell Forde’s enthusiasm and lost by knockout in the 10th round. It was the most unfortunate incident since Fernandes subsequently lapsed into a coma and died while being medevac’d to the USA for treatment. Then there was the Patrick
Forde/Diego Alcala thriller, in September 1978, where Forde and the Panamanian fought a brutal battle right down to the wire with the Guyanese coming out triumphant in the final of the ten rounds when the referee halted the contest.
In April 1985, Patrick’s nephew, Darius, squared off with Juan Bautista from Santo Domingo and though Forde eventually won the bout unanimously, no one could forget the keen contest that erupted in mid ring.
Indeed the die-hard pundits could reel off the names of those Spanish fighters that have institutionalized the action packed and competitive bouts of yesteryear. Michael Reid against Sergio Alvarez and Kenny Bristol against Angel Jose Ortiz are two of the fights that jut out.
Tonight, that tradition will continue when Dexter ‘The Kid’ Marques and Elton ‘The Bully’ Dharry square off with Freddy Beleno and Felix Machado respectively, two Spanish fighters that have made their mark in the boxing arena. Machado is a former world champion who knows the ropes, while Dharry is an aspiring world champion and hungry for the accolade. The Guyanese champion is very gifted and could box or fight, whichever the situation requires.
However, Beleno has ‘been there and done that’ and could spring a few surprises especially if Dharry allows complacency to step in. They say in boxing, the fight is not finished until the final bell rings or the referee waves it off. Fans will do well to wait on either of those two occurrences
before jumping to conclusions.
The Marques/Beleno bout should be a good tester for the Guyanese who has not fought since defeating Jamaican Rudolph Hedge in April 2014 and might be a bit ring rusty. His opponent’s last bout occurred in November last year, a mere three months ago and he (Beleno) might just feel he may have the edge over Marques. Notwithstanding, fights are won and lost on the night in question and both boxers would want to come out slugging tonight to draw first blood. This should make for an interesting affair that could have the crowd on its feet for all ten rounds.
Should Dharry and Marques win tonight’s bouts they will fight for Commonwealth titles against English fighters tentatively set for May 21.
Several other fights should act as the ‘warmer in the bank’ and fans would want to be there from the first gong to witness the action.
Imran Khan will battle Quincy Gomes over 6 rounds in a lightweight affair while Barbadian, Miguel Antoine, tackles Barbados based Guyanese, Revlon Lake in a return welterweight fight over 8 rounds. The card opener will see Mandessa Moses matching gloves with Ansilla Norville over 4 rounds.
Admission is $5,000 for a ringside seat, while general seating costs $2,000 and a lucky patron will win a 50″Smart Led TV after a special draw during the card. Patrons are therefore advised to retain their stubs. The first punch would be thrown at 20:00hrs sharp.
Come big, come along small
All roads lead to the Giftland Shopping Mall.
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