This show pulled NO PUNCHES

Don’t be surprised if in a few
years major boxing promoters are constantly coming to Cayman to scout amateur
talent. There are plenty of potential world-class fighters here who could
emulate Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker and they are already taking advantage of
the excellent new boxing programme headed by Nayon ‘Donie’ Anglin.

The latest show at the D. Dalmain
Ebanks Boxing Gymnasium gave seven entertaining bouts on Saturday night in
front of an appreciative crowd of around 200. Not a bad turnout considering the
filthy weather, most of the touting of the event was by word of mouth and the
fact that many are off island on vacation.

Plenty of politicians and community
figures turned up for the event too, which was extremely encouraging for the
fighters. They included two former ministers of sport and the current one.
Donie Anglin and Phillmore Barnett refereed all the bouts.

A team of boxers from Jamaica came
over expecting to rough the Caymanians up as usual. But unlike the April show
when they won the majority of the bouts, it was a very different story this
time. Caymanians have a reputation for being well schooled with excellent
technique, but lacking in conditioning and stamina. Not this time. They matched
the Jamaicans punch for punch and even in defeat can walk tall in the knowledge
that they are closing the gap on their neighbours. Cayman’s improvement is
partly thanks to Killa’s trainer Stormin’ Norman Wilson, the venerable American
who has helped hone the skills of numerous world champions and great fighters,
including Lennox Lewis. He has been here since February and in that short time,
along with coach Anglin, has helped boost fitness, confidence and technique
immeasurably.

Whittaker was emcee for the night
and throughout the show he pleaded for financial as well as physical support
from the crowd to ensure that there can be a show every month. That would be
the greatest legacy the late Dee Dee Ebanks could have left; not just seeing a
magnificent gym built but also a busy programme that will eventually produce
champions at amateur and professional levels.

First fight was at bantamweight
featuring the 15-year-old local debutante Tafari Ebanks. He had an exceptionally
tough bout against Kestina Davis. Not only was the Jamaican around 13lbs
heavier and far more experienced, he is a southpaw too. Despite that, Ebanks
fought skilfully for a total novice and showed a lot of heart in losing by the
narrowest of margins, 13-12. Sensing he was behind, Ebanks put in a last effort
in the third round and won it, but it wasn’t quite enough. Former minister of
sport Frank McField presented the trophies. Luckily for him though, Ebanks
didn’t have a losing debut because there was a miscalculation on a judge’s scorecard
and he was later given the verdict.

Two Caymanians fought next at
light-welter. Jeffrey Bodden took on Dwayne Anglin and it was Anglin who
triumphed with his heavy hitting, hurting the slighter built Bodden repeatedly
to force a first round stoppage after three standing counts. Former sports
minister Alden McLaughlin presented the trophies despite his left arm being in
a sling. (Maybe he was trying to get out of doing an exhibition bout with
Killa!)

Whittaker praised McLaughlin on the
mic for ensuring that the gym was completed before he left office last year as
the general elections approached, which generated massive applause.

Flyweight Alex ‘Ricky Hatton’
O’Keeffe boxed next in what was announced as an exhibition bout against the
shorter but far heavier Demesio Frederick. O’Keeffe had superior skills and
fitness and landed his shots at will, but all credit to Frederick who took the
punches bravely and battled on landing some good shots of his own. O’Keeffe has
a long way to go before he is Hatton’s level but at least he had the satisfaction
of winning his debut 13-8. Director of sport Collin Anglin presented the
trophies.

Troy O’Neil is a former novice
Caribbean light-heavyweight champion; plenty of pedigree stretching back over a
decade. He needed every ounce of that experience against Cerana Clarke in a
heavyweight clash.

O’Neil started fast, landing a big
right that gave the southpaw Jamaican a standing count at the end of the first
round. The second round was toe to toe as both fighters forced the pace. The
third was another exciting one and as they tired, Clarke found a left hook that
wobbled O’Neil for a standing count. O’Neil won 11-9 but the score could have
gone the other way. Minister of Community Affairs and Housing Mike Adam was the
trophy presenter this time.

Jason Parchment, Donie’s son, is
being groomed for Olympic competition and he stepped in against Michael
Gardener in a welterweight bout. Parchment sometimes fails to use his height
and reach advantages to good effect, but this time he followed dad’s instructions
impeccably to dominate from the start.

Gardener was picked off with
precision combinations and given two standing counts at the end of the second.
There was some confusion at the end of the second because Parchment thought ref
Barnett had called it off. Gardener looked unwilling to continue in the third
but he nevertheless came out to take more licks before it was wisely halted
mid-way through the round.

Minister of Sports Mark Scotland
gave out the trophies.

Kendal Ebanks, another Olympic
hopeful, stepped up in a light-welter bout next. He has had stamina problems in
the past but there was no hint of flagging this time as Ebanks picked his
punches superbly to outclass Anthony Clarke and win comfortably 14-10. Attorney
and respected Cayman historian Steve McField stepped up to present their trophies.

The final bout featured another
Olympic candidate, southpaw Dariel Ebanks at light-heavy against Everton
Eccleston, a seasoned hard-hitting and very experienced thirtysomething. It was
expected to be Ebanks’ toughest test in his six-fight unbeaten career but he
toyed with the Jamaican forcing a stoppage in the first round after three
standing counts.

So it was seventh heaven for
Ebanks, who is only 20 and looks most likely to reach the heights. Scotland
presented the trophies again.

Godfrey Collins trainer at the
G-Force Boxing Club in Stadium Gardens, Kingston, said: “They were all well
contested bouts. At one point there was one decision we could have gotten (the
O’Neil-Clarke fight) but overall it was good judging. We definitely want to
come back.”

Cerena Clarke said:
“I lost to Troy and I’m definitely looking for a rematch very soon. I’m
prepared to come back here, I don’t mind. This is my second time. I won the
first time, against Andrew Ford and I’m looking forward to coming back for a
third time.”

SPORTSpulledSTORY

Scotland handed the winner’s trophy to Parchment.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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