Young boxers prove their mettle

Younger boxers got a chance to show their stuff.

An action-packed nine-bout card brought supporters to the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym on Saturday, 16 September 2017 for the Cayman Islands Boxing Association’s Family Fun Day. Young pugilists took advantage of the opportunity to showcase the skills they have been learning and impress selectors ahead of the Caribbean championships.

CIBA president Leyla Jackson said a big reason for the event was to give some of the newer boxers, who haven’t had the opportunity to fight on larger cards, the opportunity step into the ring in front of spectators

“We have over 20 kids coming to the gym regularly now. They need events to keep them motivated, keep give them something to keep them working towards and to keep them in the programme,” Jackson told

“It’s a very different entity boxing in front of an empty gym to boxing in front of a crowd. It makes a huge difference with mental preparation and being ready for international competition,” she added.

Most of the boxers laced up the gloves for either their debut or second fights, with the exception of Alexander Smith, Hopkin Ebanks and Eduardo Montalvo. Smith represented the Cayman Islands at the Commonwealth Youth Games this summer, while Ebanks fought at the 2017 AMBC Continental Championships in June. Like those two, Montalvo has also featured on the association’s Elite Marble and Granite Fight Night cards.

Nathan Hales is a prospect to keep your eyes on.

The others found out what it was like to take punches in front of cheering fans. Among the debutants were Mark Forbes Cruz and Junior Williams, who fought in the opening bout.

“It was nervous but it was kind of good still,” said 12-year-old Williams, who won by split decision. The Clifton Hunter High School student said he used the fight to “learn from the mistakes I made, especially when I got hit to my head.”

Forbes Cruz, a 13-year-old John Gray High School student, also shared his experiences. “For the first time, it was scary even though I was fighting with a friend but it was good. It didn’t matter if I lost or won but just to get the experience for the first time,” he told moments after the fight.

Junior Williams lands a crushing blow to Mark Forbes Cruz.

Brandy Barnes, who lost a split decision to Neandra Forbes Morgan in the only female bout of the afternoon, also gave insight about the feelings of the novice boxers.

“It brought a more competitive and intense atmosphere which is, as you can imagine a lot different than regular ‘spar day’. Even though the boxers left with a few bruises and busted lips, I’m sure they would be happy to do it again. The nervousness got to a few of us to make for a bit of a messy fight but that’s what makes it entertaining [and] helps us to improve,” she said.

“Besides all of that, this event helped shed light on what we all as boxers need to work on in terms of fitness and technicality. Now this just means we get to bring our ‘A’ games not only during an event but especially in training. I think a lot of us underestimated the hard work you really have to put into the preparation stages before a big event,” Barnes added.

Jackson said an event like this is what the CIBA needs as it looks to deepen the pool from which it selects fighters to overseas competitions, like the Caribbean championships being held in St Lucia in December. “It’s so important because obviously they need the preparation and we need to assess where they are at in order to be able to get them moving forward,” she said.

“[I’m] super proud of the young boxers. They seemed really happy and positive, so it was a good day.”

Here’s a full breakdown of the card and results:

  • Junior Williams def. Mark Forbes Cruz – split decision.
  • Nathan Hales def. Alex Hurlston – referee stopped contest at start of round three.
  • Jathaan Barnes def. Nathan McLaughlin – referee stopped contest at in round three.
  • Keanu McField Jackson def. Sabien Barnes – referee stopped contest at in round three (injury).
  • Deandre Rowe def. Michael Pearson – unanimous decision.
  • Liam Chisholm def. Aldene Junior Forbes Morgan – win on points.
  • Neandra Forbes Morgan def. Brandy Barnes – split decision.
  • Alexander Smith def. Romario Campbell – split decision.
  • Hopkin Ebanks def. Eduardo Montalvo – fight stopped in round three.

Dr Jody Timpson of Novoclinic Cayman, one of the sponsors of the event, is taking a look at injured boxers – Sabien Barnes, who injured his shoulder a few weeks ago and impacted his fight, as well as Romario Campbell, a Caymanian boxer based in the UK, who had a pre-existing shoulder injury and was also slowed by this in the ring.

Trainers and boxers now turn their attention to the upcoming Elite Marble and Granite Fight Night in late October. The card for the event has not yet been announced.

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