Cuban boxing has a long and rich history, respected globally for its high standards in the amateur code. So it was an honor for four of their top fighters to display their skills in Grand Cayman over the weekend.
Cayman’s best two amateurs, Kendall Ebanks and Tafari Ebanks, fought world-renowned Cuban opponents, while a pair of Cuban heavyweights faced each other at the Lions Centre on Saturday.
There were also two bouts from the Extended After School boxing program, championed by Cayman Islands Boxing Association president Terence Spencer. All the five bouts were refereed by Nayon “Donie” Anglin. Cayman’s coaches were Norman Wilson and Troy O’Neil.
The first two bouts involved Extended After School participants. First up were 12-year-olds Finn Millward and Callum Smith. They showed impressive basic skills and after two rounds Millward got the verdict.
Bruce Lee Coulson fought Sean Rankin in an all-action encounter next, with Coulson winning on points.
The third bout pitted two Cuban heavyweights for bragging rights, Emmanuel Reyes Platt and national champion Frank Sanchez. Reyes started faster, but Sanchez just bided his time and paced himself better to win comfortably on points.
At light-welterweight, Cuba’s multi-medaled Luis Oliva Gener showed why his is one of the world’s best in his division with a points victory over Cayman’s Kendall Ebanks, who pressed throughout the bout but just lacked that little extra to beat a more experienced opponent. The fight served as a quality learning experience though for Ebanks, who at 22 is maturing well and could qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 if he resists the lure of the pro ranks.
Tafari Ebanks is never in a dull fight, and against Norlan Yera Diaz he faced a tough task. Ebanks has an abundance of courage as well as sublime skills and he came through some turbulent moments to snatch a majority decision.
The night was topped by American comedian Mark Simmons giving a hilarious performance before the Floyd Mayweather Jr. mega-fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was shown on two big screens.
The Cubans loved their initial introduction to Cayman so much that they extended their stay to Thursday.