Cayman holds its first major boxing show here soon and top of the bill is America’s latest golden boy.
Andre Ward was the only boxer to win gold for the United States at the Athens Olympics four years ago and the media spotlight has been on him ever since.
Just like the original Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, Ward, 24, hopes to win multiple world titles and become super rich in the process.
The show is promoted by Goosen Tutor Promotions in association with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. Minister Charles Clifford was already committed $1.1 million to the event which will be recouped in tourism revenue.
Ward won light-heavy gold in Athens and hopes to get his first title, the NABO super-middle belt, when he fights Jerson Ravelo, another Olympian, on Cayman Knockout at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on June 20.
Unbeaten in 15 bouts, including 12 knockouts, Ward takes on a dangerous opponent in New Jersey-based Dominican Ravelo who has only lost twice in 20 bouts and recorded 16 knock outs in the process. Ravelo was a participant in the The Contender series. His only two losses have been against other top ranked fighters.
Ward is now based in Oakland, California. His last bout was a seventh round stoppage against the rugged Ruben Williams last month. In the bout prior to that he stopped the previously unbeaten rising star Roger Cantrell.
Also on the bill is heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers against Raphael Butler fighting for the USBA heavyweight championship.
Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker hopes to be on the bill too.
Ward was enthralled with Grand Cayman on a visit to promote the show last week.
Considering the press conference was under a marquee tent outside Ferdinand’s Restaurant at the Westin Casuarina Resort with Seven Mile Beach running behind the top table, it was a no-brainer on whether he liked George Town or not. It’s certainly a lot more exotic than his home city of Philadelphia.
‘I love the Cayman Islands,’ he said. ‘As I’ve been telling reporters, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Nobody in the world needs us to come and see this is a beautiful place to be.
‘I’m happy to be here, live and direct. I haven’t had much time to stay here but after my preparations we’ll be back a week prior to the fight and we’ll come to take care of business and put on a show.’
Ward found time later to visit the Cadet Corps at the First Assembly of God Church on Old Crewe Road and the Cayman Islands Boxing Club.
This will not be his first time fighting in the Caribbean. ‘I had the privilege to fight in St Lucia last November. It was the same type of weather, an outdoor event, very humid. So I’ve had a taste of what this would be like.
‘Ravelo is willing to fight. It’s going to be a gruelling fight physically, but it’ll come down to who wants it the most. He obviously wants to win. He’s nearly 31 so obviously he’s no spring chicken, so this may be one of his last chances to I have to take him very seriously.
‘I’m elated that I’m fighting for my first title. It’s an NABO one which is a national title but a world governing body supports this title and it also affords us a world ranking. I’m excited. This is what I’ve been dreaming about.’
Ward is a puncher and is also technically a clever fighter. Which style is he most likely to use against Ravelo? ‘To be honest, I don’t even know what I’m going to do. That’s what I love about me. I’m an instinctive fighter and fans coming can expect a great evening.’