Trifecta of UK titles for Cayman’s boxers

Barnes, Ebanks and Smith with other fighters (left) at the Amateur Boxing Alliance Championships.

A trio of Cayman Islands boxers won titles at the Amateur Boxing Alliance Championships in England, where they have been in training ahead of the Caribbean championships next month. Dariel Ebanks, Alexander Smith and Brandy Barnes all had their hands raised as victors by referees at the end of their bouts at Chingford Assembly Hall in North East London on Sunday, 12 November.

Barnes fought in the senior women’s class A Under 48 kg division. Due to a limited number of fighters available at that weight class, she advanced directly to the final, where she faced Saima Shaikh. After three rounds of action, the 21-year-old was awarded the fight and the championship by unanimous decision over her opponent from Battersea.

“The win was expected but it was tough. I was tired from the first round straight through to the last round but I think I just wanted it more than the other girl and I just kept pushing and punching,” Barnes told CaymanSportsBuzz.com via phone on Monday.

Brandy Barnes (Photo courtesy Cayman Islands Boxing Association)

Next into the ring was 19-year-old Smith in the Under 57kg senior novice finals against Avnish Patel, where the youngster from West Bay earned a split decision for the featherweight title.

“It was the best thing that happened to me,” he said joyfully as he spoke to CaymanSportsBuzz.com the morning after his triumph in the ring. “It was a challenging fight. I had to come out strong in the first and second. In the third, I had to relax a little.”

Smith has constantly won praise from national team coach Ryan Barrett, and his teammates in camp are seeing noticeable progress in his development. “He’s improved drastically,” said Dariel Ebanks. “He’s a whole different fighter now after coming to this training camp. His confidence level has risen by miles and miles.”

 

Smith poses with the fruits of his labour.

Ebanks also stepped into the ring, where he faced Tim Olla from Romford, East London for the title in the 81kg division. “He was a tough kid. He had good ring experience with 20 wins and three losses,” said Ebanks of his opponent, whom he took care of with a unanimous decision.

The southpaw, who has competed recently as a light heavyweight will be moving down to 75kg for the Caribbean championships in St Lucia – a move he hopes pays dividends.

“I’m going to be a lot stronger at that weight and not going to struggle as much as I have been in the 81kg division where I have to use a lot more power and a lot more force to move these guys around. It takes more out of me than at 75kg. Now, I get to push them around a bit more, hopefully,” he said.

Dariel Ebanks (file photo)

Barrett, who’s been leading the training at Gumshield Boxing Gym in south London with his father, Steve, was pleased with how the camp has been going and the results on the recent fight night.

“I expected it. The boys and Brandy have put in a tremendous amount of work and they got what they deserved.  The hard work we have put in over the past month really showed,” he said.

“Everyone saw the difference in Brandy and Alex come fight night. We know what we’re going to get from Dariel but in the general sense, Brandy and Alex have really grown from these opportunities,” the national coach added of the exposure presented by the camp that the Cayman Islands Boxing Association has been able to put on with sponsorship from Elite Marble and Granite.

Reflecting on her performance and the preparation done during training camp, Barnes said: “It makes me know I’m ready for whatever is in front of me. Whatever limit that I have for myself, Steve and Ryan will help me push past it and once you push past those barriers, then you feel like you could take on anything.”

Smith said the ability to spar daily, while focusing on technical work with his coaches, has raised not only his skill level but also his confidence. “I performed way better than before. I feel confident that I will get a gold medal in St Lucia,” he said.

The trio in London are part of a 10-member team announced for the 11-17 December Caribbean championships. Other members are Diego Rodriguez (lightweight), Deandre Rowe (featherweight), Thase Watler (light welterweight), Aaron Miller (bantamweight-junior) and Keanu McField-Jackson (light flyweight – junior). Also scheduled to make the trip are two other female fighters: flyweight Chambria Dalhouse and 14-year-old Neandra Forbes Morgan, who will feature at featherweight.

CaymanSportsBuzz.com has been informed that Hopkin Ebanks, who was also in camp, has returned home and opted to take a break from the ring. He was expected to represent the Cayman Islands, along with Dariel Ebanks, at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next April.

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