The Jamaicans promised to come over and give Cayman a good beating. In the event, of the six that arrived, only two went home with a winner’s trophy.
They went back to their aptly named Bruising Gym in Stony Hill, Kingston, realising that Cayman fighters are not as soft as they thought they were after all.
That was a measure of how closely fought and well matched all the contests were.
Boatswain’s Beach had never been the venue of a boxing show and any shortcomings the owners had were instantly dispelled.
Over 500 packed into the entrance area of the Turtle Farm on Saturday night for a thrilling evening of seven hard fought contests and two exhibition bouts.
The turtles must have wondered what was going on, but even they, probably warmed to the good vibes generated by this unique event, brought together by a host of people but principally through the foresight of Turtle Farm exec Pascalle Gillon who put it all together and workers there like Jodie Ebanks, plus the input of boxing coach Donie Anglin.
The evening kicked off with an exhibition between Jeffrey Bodden and Johnathan Hurlston. Both were in the ring for the first time but it didn’t show.
The stronger Hurlston caught Bodden repeatedly but he displayed a lot of composure and bravery in weathering the storm and firing back to last to the end of three rounds. Bodden actually finished less tired of the two.
Boxing’s dangers are evident and there was a scare in the next exhibition bout when Jerron Carter collapsed onto the canvas at the end of round one against Cruz Barnett.
A doctor attended to him and by the time an ambulance had arrived half an hour later, medics deemed him well enough not to have to go to the hospital.
Pity that happened though considering it was only an exhibition match and they were supposed to be punching lightly.
Adrenalin probably got the better if Cruz who is trained by his father Philmore who just happened to be the ref.
Carter was fine, albeit slightly concussed. He even wanted to go out and restart the bout.
The Cayman national song was then sung beautifully by Jamesette Anglin and the night’s entertainment got into full swing.
Cayman’s Tracey Seymour knew she had a tough fight ahead of her because Sasha Gaye Fowler came with a fearsome reputation as a street fighter and conqueror of grown men in gym fights.
Taller and heavier than Seymour, the Caymanian used every ounce of her superior boxing ability to ward off Fowler’s crude rushes.
Heavyweight Seymour was even confident enough in the third to turn southpaw. She got the Cayman ball rolling with a deserved points victory.
Middleweight Eric McField has been around for a while. Dedicated and skilful, he was tested to the limit by the fast and powerful Jamaican Michael Holmes who fought in spurts very effectively.
McField was dropped heavily in the first round by a left-right cross combination and took a standing count in the third.
Holmes got the decision but only by a 2-1 majority because McField had been busier and forced the fight throughout.
Cayman’s light-heavy Curtis Henderson was also the busier of the two against Kareem Campbell but he too dropped a tight 2-1 decision. Henderson was disappointed after and has plenty of reason to believe he deserved the verdict because Campbell was holding a lot.
It was the battle of the sons of coaches next at middleweight. Donie’s welterweight son Jason Parchment faced Carl Grant Jr.
Parchment dropped Grant with a left hook in the opening exchanges and gave him another standing count at the end of round one.
Grant then forced the fight but after such a disastrous first Parchment used his longer reach and slick footwork to stay out of trouble to rack up a comfortable points victory.
Grant Snr felt his son should have got the nod but maybe he was a little biased.
Dariel Ebanks looked sensational in his last bout in November and had to be at the top of his game against the super-fit and aggressive Rashaw Campbell in a heavyweight match.
Southpaw Ebanks’ preparations had not gone well as he had flu two weeks ago and been unable to train much. But he showed a lot of heart and determination to sneak a close decision 2-1 against the tireless Campbell.
The most anticipated bout of the night was the grudge fight between Caymanians Troy ‘The Real Deal’ O’Neil and Peter ‘Lightning’ Lewison at heavyweight.
Both had accused the other of calling him out so there was only one way it could be sorted.
O’Neil, 33, went in the firm favourite as he’s been boxing for over a decade and won several medals, including a Caribbean novice title in 2002.
Lewison may be only 21 but he is already a respected gladiator for his performances in the mixed martial arts arena as well as the boxing ring.
With Donie Anglin in Lewison’s corner, that balanced things up a little. The bout was as hard fought as expected with the many supporters for both fighters cheering their heroes on.
O’Neil won the first round comfortably with dazzling combinations of head and body shots as he bounced around but inexplicably changed tactics and went toe to toe with Lewison in the next two rounds and allowed Lighning back into the fight.
Lewison was temporarily blinded in one eye by a thumb in the third and allowed time out to recover. He battled bravely and the 2-1 majority verdict for O’Neil reflects just how close it was.
That was the first time O’Neil had fought without Anglin in his corner and with his mentor on the opposite side that must have troubled him a little. O’Neil had as cornerman Ernest Barnes who did a good job.
The closing fight was another humdinger. Light-welter Kendall Ebanks easily handled Anthony ‘Shabba’ Clarke the last time they fought four months ago.
Disgruntled by the verdict at the Lions Centre, Clarke trained diligently after that and promised to reverse the result this time.
Southpaw Clarke started fast and Ebanks took a while to find his rhythm but by the third round he had the Jamaican’s measure and with only seconds remaining, Clarke’s corner threw in the towel, not wishing to see their man take further punishment.
Kendall was hugged by his sponsor Darnall Kelly of Hardware Express before all his supporters crowded the ring, including Kevin Anglin, the Special Olympics athlete.
A relieved Anglin was pleased with the show. ‘The next one should be even bigger and better, because many people couldn’t make it for whatever reason,’ he said.
‘I want to thank everyone who helped make this a success and give a special shout out to all the sponsors; Andy’s Rent-A-Car, Boatswain’s Beach staff, Cayman Airways, Cobalt Coast, Dog House, Hardware Express, J&M Electronics, King Imports and Sunshine Suites.’
Prizes were handed out by Randy Rankin, the president of the Cayman Islands Boxing Association. White collar boxing promoter James Burch did a fine job as the bucket man.
The main constructive criticism is that the lighting on the ring area was poor. Photographers had a nightmare evening trying to get decent shots and spectators would have benefited from seeing the action clearer. The lights were simply too far away.
Nevertheless, it was a great night. West Bayers came out in their numbers as promised, so it’s no wonder that the DJ announced well before the end that the next Boatswain’s Beach boxing show will be held in the much bigger parking lot. The poor turtles might feel deprived though.