To start with, the weather was perfect, and the Cayo Welcome Center is perhaps the most “welcoming” outdoor entertainment facility in the country, a must visit for any municipal authority planning to spend taxpayers’ money to upgrade their existing “Central Park.”
The area that was once simply a drive-way approach to the front gate of the Norman Broaster Stadium has been splendidly transformed into what has been aptly named the “Cayo Welcome Center,” featuring a wide, roofed band-stand facing an open clay-tiled patio, about forty feet radius, bordered by a semi-circular four-foot high cement wall that provides seating as well as an enclosed array of decorative plants. Inside the patio facing the band-stand, chairs had been placed to take up the available space left by the boxing ring that stood about eight feet west of the band stand.
The “Free Boxing Tournament” at the Cayo Welcome Center on Saturday night, October 12, was a smashing success, as residents came out in droves to enjoy a night of great entertainment.
Most seats were filled, and the crowd, close to a thousand by our estimate, was jammed six and seven deep all along the periphery of the cement wall on the raised outside continuation of the clay patio. A ten-dollar donation was requested from patrons utilizing the ring-side chairs, but everyone else enjoyed a night of free boxing and other entertainment provided through the efforts of the event coordinators, the Belize Boxing Development Council (BBDC), along with the Cayo Town Board and various sponsors from the business community.
BBDC member Houston Carr performed referee duties for the entire night, while other BBDC members Clinton Tucker and Frank Martinez were the corner-men for their boxers who performed against local and Guatemalan opponents. Carr, Tucker and Martinez are also members of the Belize Boxing Federation, whose president, Moses Sulph, confirmed today that the event had the full blessing of the Federation. The doctor in attendance was Dr. Ramirez, and Cayo Councillor Mike Salazar was the ring announcer. Judges included Ismael Fabro, Muhammad Es Sudan and one Richard (didn’t get the last name).
The free boxing show at the Cayo Welcome Center had all the trappings of a real prime-time professional promotion, with attention focused between rounds on beautiful young ladies displaying the Round numbers, a break between bouts taken by the phenomenal Ashanti Palacio who wowed the audience with her amazing yoga routine, as well as some exciting comedy from a colorfully attired “Ozzy the Clown” who “did his thing.”
But it was a night of boxing, and there were 8 amateur bouts scheduled, 5 involving Guatemalan fighters. Belizean boxers represented the San Pedro gym as well as the Lions Den gyms of Cayo and Ladyville. All bouts were 4 x 2-minute rounds with 1 minute rest in between. (There were a couple mistakes with the names of Guatemalan boxers’ announced at ring side, but event coordinator Frank Martinez later provided the official bout results to our sports desk.)
In the opener, featuring two Junior Division boxers from the Cayo Lions Den gym, the fans were really thrilled by the performance of the youngsters, one of whom demonstrated a few classical moves reminiscent of some of the masters of the sport. In the end, 10-year-old Jason Acosta (67 lbs) gained a unanimous decision over 12-year-old Carlos Silverio (71 lbs). Silverio was stronger and more aggressive early on, but Acosta skillfully danced and back-pedaled out of trouble, and scored points with clean counter-punches to impress the judges. Indeed, the crowd wanted to see more of the youngsters, but that was the only “small fry” fight on the card.
The second bout saw two 132 pounders, Maximilliano Silverio of Cayo going against Warren “Ghost” Davis from the Ladyville Lions Den gym. Davis appeared draped in a real “ghost” outfit, a black robe with a white skeleton scrawled over the front. Over-anxious in his debut in the ring, Davis was very aggressive and effective in the first couple rounds, expending a lot of energy with hard punches. His opponent, Silverio, soon turned the tide, and a visibly weary Davis barely made it through the fourth and final round; but he had apparently done enough to win a close decision, to the dismay of the Cayo fans, who thought Maximilliano deserved the victory.
Bout #3 was another local affair, pitting 182 lbs Christian Yacab of Cayo against 166 lbs Orin Velasquez of Ladyville. Velasquez won a split decision; two judges gave him a 40-36 score, while the other had it tied at 38-38.
It was then time for the Belize vs Guatemala show to begin.
In bout #4, Ladyville/Belize’s Kenyon Wright (171 lbs) gave a good account of himself through three rounds, but he was unable to answer the bell for Round 4 due to exhaustion, partly a result of some stiff body blows from his opponent, Guatemalan Luis Alfaro (178 lbs), who was awarded the TKO victory.
The 5th bout of the night saw Ladyville/Belize’s Max “Pain” Williams (145 lbs) scoring an impressive second round knockout of his Guatemalan opponent Kevin Najera Flores (152 lbs). Max, who reportedly lost his previous outing in Belize City to another Guatemalan, has changed trainers, and now seems poised to go “pro,” as his opponent, an amateur champion of his weight class in Guatemala, was apparently overwhelmed by the hard-hitting Williams.
But the most exciting bout of the night came up next, and featured Cayo/Belize’s rising star of the west, 16-year-old Andy Dominguez (110 lbs) taking on Guatemala’s Roni Isaias Aldana (110 lbs), amateur champion of his weight class in Guatemala. Both proved to be very skillful boxers, and it went the distance, with Andy scoring two knockdowns on the way to a crowd pleasing unanimous decision victory.
The penultimate bout of the night then saw San Pedro/Belize’s Mohammad Harmouch (161 lbs) being beaten to the punch consistently by his highly skilled Guatemala opponent Eduardo Esquivel (152 lbs). Harmouch battled gamely, but Esquivel shook him up a few times to take the unanimous decision.
Cayo fans were looking for something to cheer about in the main event, and it looked like Ladyville/Belize’s Alex Neal (151 lbs) was about to give them just that against his Guatemalan adversary Vincente Sansores (165 lbs). Neal came out fast and aggressive in the first round, but Sansores weathered the storm and came back strong, putting Neal on the defensive near the end of the round. In his corner at the end of Round 1, Neal, obviously in pain, was holding his left hand up to corner-man Clinton Tucker; and when referee Houston Carr came over to inquire if there was a problem, he was of the opinion that Neal was unable to continue due to an injured left wrist, and called the bout to a halt, declaring it a “No Contest.” The fans were disappointed, but not angry; these things do happen sometimes, and Neal definitely would need both his hands to survive against Sansores, who was anything but a pushover.
In a brief ceremony following the last bout, awards of appreciation were issued to the victorious boxers by Cayo Lions Den manager Frank Martinez on behalf of the Belize Boxing Development Council for their participation in its inaugural boxing event.