Barbados’ Ricardo Blackman was the undoubted star of the night at the Horace Phillips Memorial Boxing Tournament staged at the St Michael School on Saturday night.
The highly promising amateur from the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) emerged the victor of a four-round mini-war against Guyana’s Seon Griffith that was marked by some frenetic exchanges with neither asking any quarter. What made the bout intriguing was that the well-drilled Griffith showed himself to be a tough adversary with a strong chin. A right cross from Blackman in the second-round that might have put down lesser opponents, brought a momentary wobble from Griffith who almost instinctively went on the offensive rather than retreat.
Blackman’s side-to-side movement was a joy to watch and his alacrity caused Griffith to miss a number of his punches. It was noticeable that Blackman often landed his right cross both as a lead and a counterpunch, obviously the result of some coaching from his father who has been on the professional boxing circuit. But it was Griffith’s willingness to pursue Blackman and at times take the fight to him that made the contest what it was. Two good fighters always make for an exciting bout.
That Kimberley Gittens was later adjudged the best boxer of the night suggested that those who made that particular decision watched the card from Managua during a power failure, but certainly not from Martindale’s Road. Gittens, also of the BDFSP, was excellent during her bout but the sport involves two fighters and Gittens’ Trinidadian opponent Kimberley Jackson was clearly out of her depth. There were occasions when the taller Jackson resembled a pretty punching bag with Gittens relentlessly pounding her body with a two-fisted attack. It was a no-contest and a surprise that Jackson lasted the four rounds on her feet.
The National Gym’s Michael Griffith was also in winners’ row in his lightweight bout against Akeem Farley of the Four Hill Gym. Farley basically gifted the bout to the tough Griffith by refusing to use his height and reach advantage to his benefit. He frequently allowed Griffith to get on the inside, double-up on jabs and land overhand rights. That should not have been happening given the obvious disparity in their physical attributes.
The only bout that failed to go the distance was the heavyweight contest between Christopher Harris of the Shaka School and Belfield Gym’s Charles Cox. Harris complained of a low blow in the first round which appeared inadvertently caused. But then he seemed more preoccupied with further complaints than fighting. It came as no surprise when he surrendered in the second of the three rounds to lose by a TKO.
Jabali Breedy of the National Gym chalked up another victory when he defeated the game Jamal Eastman of Guyana in three terrific rounds. It had to be a close call with Breedy’s greater work ethic probably swaying the judges in his favour. But Eastman showed better ring craft, though he lacked Breedy’s power and physicality. Eastman demonstrated good basics and once again Breedy’s showboating could have got him into trouble against a harder puncher. His habit of sticking his head out inviting taller opponents to strike him is going to work to his disadvantage one day. He would be better advised that the closer he sticks to taller opponents the better for his chin.
Other bouts on the entertaining card involved pinweight brothers Idarcus Austin and Iwesika Austin of the Belfield Gym with the latter, showing better fundamentals, emerging as winner. The National Gym’s Michael Griffith got the better of Chvanni Forde in a three-round lightweight fight, while the National Gym’s Kelly Ann Blackman, sister of Ricardo, won over Iprecious Lythcott of the Belfield Gym in a three-round light-flyweight contest.
It was noticeable that the bouts involving the “senior” amateurs, including that involving Blackman and Griffith, were fought without headgear. A check with local officials revealed that the International Amateur Boxing Association had introduced that rule change last year. Whether the local association wants to make an official approach to whoever specific fools came up with that change or not, they should perhaps simply ignore it and allow the fighters to use headgear. Amateur boxing is, after all, amateur boxing.