Boxers ready for Island Rumble

Dariel Ebanks (file photo)

Cayman’s amateur boxers will be under the bright lights of the Truman Bodden Sports Complex Saturday night, in front of what’s expected to be the biggest crowds of their careers at the Island Rumble Boxing Challenge. However, the fighters and their coaches are confident they are ready to shine on the big stage.

“The team is looking as good as it can do after Christmas and the New Year,” said national boxing coach, Ryan Barrett. He added that he’s seeing “100 percent commitment from the fighters”.

Manny Pacquiao (Courtesy: Island Rumble)

The fight night put on by CMG Events is being hosted by international boxing superstar, Mannny Pacquiao of the Philippines. The WBO champion arrives in Cayman on Friday.

In addition to professional exhibitions featuring rising middleweight star, Luis Arias, and another with Canadian light welterweight Steven Wilcox and local professional Peter ‘Lightning’ Lewison, Cayman Islands Boxing Association’s amateur programme will put four of its best up against opposition from the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Dariel Ebanks, who returned home last month with gold in the Caribbean Boxing Development Tournament in Barbados, will step into the ring for a light heavyweight bout against top Bahamian Israel Johnson. Fellow light heavyweight Dan Hewitt-Dean will square off against Davian Smith of Bahamas. Middleweight Hopkin Ebanks, who won silver in Barbados, faces another Bahamian, Cameron Sweeting. Chambria Dalhouse will face Jamaican Kerron Thomas in the lone female fight. They will lace up their gloves for a super featherweight bout.

“It’s a really good opportunity for me to fight in this show with Pacquiao hosting it. It’s almost unbelievable,” said Dariel Ebanks. The veteran amateur is accustomed to fighting with venues filled with a few hundred spectators but Island Rumble promoter Matthew Leslie said he expects as many as four thousand to be in attendance. “It’s going to be a really big crowd. I’ve never been in front a crowd like that, so it’s going to be a good experience,” Ebanks said.

Barrett, a former professional world titlist, described the southpaw as a phenomenal fighter. He said “the crowd for this should bring out the best in him because this is the kind of crowd that he should look for the remainder of his career.”

Meantime, Ebanks said his recent success in the ring has only served as motivation to train harder for the fight against Johnson.

“You always got to do your best. You always got to train your hardest. That’s how you win. You don’t win something and then relax. You always have to keep going harder than you went before,” the boxer said.

Hopkin Ebanks with his silver medal from the Caribbean Development Boxing Tournament (Courtesy CIBA)

Also impressing in Barbados was the other Ebanks. With only a few weeks’ notice, Hopkin Ebanks, won his preliminary fight and advanced to the final, where he came away with silver after a controversial decision. “It wasn’t supposed to come out that way but I took the loss. I can always bounce back. [It’s] a new year [and my resolution is] no losses this year, so I’m looking forward to it,” the young fighter told

The middleweight boxer said he’s eager to get back into the ring in front of a home crowd, having done so last in 2015. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in a fight at home. When I’m at home, I feel even more confident because I know my family is everywhere,” he said.

Dalhouse, a teenage fighter who earned her first career win in her last outing in November, will have a familiar face in the other corner. She gets a rematch against the Jamaican opponent she knocked to the canvas en route to the “W” in Kingston. Thomas, however, has picked up some valuable experience and won gold at the Barbados tournament.

Chambria Dalhouse (file photo)

Barrett said he expects it to be an exciting sequel for Dalhouse and Thomas. “I don’t think there’ll be any complacency in the rematch. In my opinion, Chambria could stop this girl inside the distance, even though she won the gold medal in the Caribbean championships…Chambria is the real deal,” he said.

Hewitt-Dean has been putting in two-a-day training sessions before and after work to get ready. “Hopefully the hard work we put in will pay off,” he said when we stopped by the gym.

His last fight was against a win over London’s Darren Jackson when both fighters looked to land power punches frequently. After assessing his next opponent, Hewitt-Dean is ready for another entertaining bout. “I’ve got a feeling it is going to be kind of similar …he’s a big guy, a big hitter. It should be a good fight.”

Dan Hewitt-Dean

The Bahamian team arrived Thursday night ahead of weigh-ins on Friday evening. “Everybody is healthy. Everybody is rested. So, I guess they’re ready,” said coach Ron Rogers of Strikers Boxing Club, where the boxers fighting Saturday hail from.

He said he’s looking for an exciting fight night at Island Rumble and win or lose, it will be a valuable experience for his team. “It’s more of experience, being in front of a bigger crowd and giving the boys that experience. Also, putting on a very entertaining show – not necessarily for the win but a very entertaining show,” he said in a brief interview with

Also on the card is a pair of white collar bouts. Simon Hurry from Collas Grill will fight Lee Murray of Andro Group, while James Burch of Walkers will face Logan Chinoy of Cayman Fight Factory.

Gates open at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex at 7:00 p.m.


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