October’s Lion Centre “fight night” will feature female boxer 16-year-old Chambria Dalhouse in her first international bout against her London counterpart on the main bill.
At the same time, Cayman national boxing coach and former welterweight world champion Ryan Barrett will face his father Steve Barrett, coach of the half-dozen visitors from southeast London’s Gumshield Gym.
The two sides will square off in a handful of separate bouts, while the audience will get a peek at Cayman’s up-and-coming talent in at least one – and maybe two – undercard matches, pitting local boxers against each other.
“This represents our amateur team against a top-quality team from London,” said Cayman Islands Boxing Association Commercial Manager Mark Woollard.
Selecting only “five or six” fighters from a roster of more than 100 to travel to Cayman, the London team will “test to the limits” the Caymanians, Mr. Woollard said, largely determining Cayman’s entries at December’s Caribbean championships in Barbados.
“This is the third in the event series,” he said, “following on from the events against the Bahamas in October 2015 and Canada in July,” in which local boxers beat the northerners in five bouts, 3 to 2.
The five, possibly six, October bouts will serve as a warm-up for a series of Cayman national team matches in Kingston on Nov. 5, followed by team stalwart Bruce Lee Coulson’s outing at the Nov. 18-21 Sugar Bert Title Belt National Championships in Kissimmee, Florida.
The London matches will be Coulson’s first “home-court” appearance since his late-August victory at the Sugar Bert qualifying rounds in Columbus, Georgia.
The Lions Centre bill will feature top national team fighters Dariel Ebanks, Cuban-born Eduardo Montalvo, Alex Smith and Coulson.
Woollard says the matches will kick off preparations for Barbados, the second annual regional championship after last year’s gathering in Guyana.
“The London team will have had a lot more bouts and a lot more experience,” Woollard said, pointing to its roster of more than 100 fighters.
“In the U.S. and U.K., a boxer will fight every week,” he said, contrasting it with working in the Caribbean “because you have to fly everywhere, and it gets quite expensive.”
Dalhouse, who largely trains under Nayon “Donie” Anglin, will fight 16-year-old Tilly Cosgrove from Greenwich.
“Chambria is our only woman boxer [at present],” Woollard said, “and has appeared at both our previous fight nights in exhibition matches. This is her first professional international bout.
“She’s really dedicated, she’s there every day, running, working out. She has to spar with the boys – and usually beats them up – because there are no other woman.”
The idea, Woollard said, is driven by Barrett “to develop the Cayman Islands boxing program, develop young Caymanian athletes to do the best they can in the sport of boxing,” aiming at Olympic competition, the Commonwealth Games and December’s Barbados championships.
The national team comprises between eight and 10 boxers, he said, but nearly 100 aspirants, ages 8 and older, “are at the gym every week. They are 10 and 12 and 15 and 16 years old,” the commercial manager said, “and the ultimate goal is to win medals at major championships.”
“We expect to come away from the [Barbados] championships with four or five medals, silver and golds,” he said.
Cayman beat Trinidad 5 to 1 “a couple of years back,” he said, but no local boxers are heavyweights, mostly bantam- or welterweights. Trinidad entered a heavyweight in the Rio Olympics, but Nigel Paul was KO’d in 2.44 seconds by Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba.
Trinidad is expected to have at least 70 athletes in Barbados, Jamaica will bring 10, the Bahamas another 12 and Cayman will take “five or six” to the 10-day event.