Yesterday’s boxing card at Bird’s Isle was a refreshing re-start of a long lost tradition in the old capital, boxing in the morning at the “Island” before football in the afternoon at the Barracks.
The weather was fine – bright sunshine and a fresh southeaster – and though the Island was not packed, there was still a boisterous crowd of close to 300 fight fans on hand to witness an all Belizean amateur card that included female boxers for the first time.
Some old timers from the past glory years of boxing in Belize grumbled a bit about the low level of skill displayed on Sunday, but, like most fans present, they also soon found themselves caught up in the energy and excitement brought by the combatants.
The show began around 12:30 p.m. with solo exhibitions by female boxing sisters, teenaged Tassiyana and 9-year-old Sassani Tucker, who took turns at going through a one-round boxing routine with trainer Clinton Tucker.
In the first of seven 4-round bouts, Brandon Aguilar (143 lbs) from Lions Den Cayo won a unanimous decision over Edwardo Garcia (138 lbs) of Lions Den Ladyville. Next was Rayford Smith (130 lbs) of Lions Den Ladyville gaining a split decision over Simeon Lino (140 lbs) of Leo Pol Gym. In the 3rd bout, “J.R.” of Leo Pol Gym won a unanimous decision over Brinton Flowers of Lions Den Ladyville. The 4th bout was a real crowd pleaser as the bigger boys, Orin “Breda Justice” Velasquez (170 lbs) of Lions Den Ladyville slugged it out with Anderson Petillo (174 lbs) of Leo Pol Gym, with Petillo gaining the unanimous decision. In the 5th bout, the smaller Kenyon Wright (175 lbs) of Lions Den Ladyville pulled out a unanimous decision over Richard “Chino” Peyrefitte (190 lbs) of Lions Den Cayo.
The 6th bout of the day, a female encounter, was billed as one of the main events, and pitted Shenique Michael (132 lbs) of Lions Den Ladyville against Pauline Reneau (132 lbs) of Leo Pol Gym, and the crowd was off their feet for this one. The ladies can box, and they both came to fight, nobody backing down. In the end, referee Roberto Ordonez raised both their arms, and ring announcer Kenny Morgan declared that Shenique and Pauline had both been declared winners. Of course, as in all amateur bouts, protective head gear was worn.
The 7th and final bout, which went for 4 rounds of 2 minutes each like all the others, was the male main event between Alex Neal (157 lbs) of Lions Den Ladyville and Mohammed Harmouch (160 lbs) of San Pedro Gym. This was another “action packed thriller,” with Neal stunning Harmouch once, causing a standing 8 count; and at the end, the excited fans were pleased with the verdict, which gave a unanimous decision to Alex Neal.
There were some beautiful trophies on display near ringside, but most fans, including yours truly, couldn’t hang around, as the last bout ended just after 3:00 p.m., and there was football coming up at the MCC.
We got a visit from promoter Clinton Tucker this morning, and he noted that the trophy presentations had to be postponed as most fans were eager to go on to other sporting events.
On the comments by some harsh critics about the level of skill displayed, “It’s just a start,” remarked Tucker, who wore both the promoter and trainer hats yesterday. “Many of the boxers were nervous because it was their first time performing in front of a crowd.” He agreed with some of the experts that the fighters tended to “punch themselves out” with too many hard blows early. “As they get more outings, they will learn to pace themselves better, and make more use of their jab,” he predicted. He said that plans are to continue with more boxing cards on a regular basis, rotating the promotions among the different active gyms in Belize City, San Ignacio, San Pedro and Ladyville.