Fight card falls short on night of competitive bouts
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Fight fans that showed up an hour after the first bout of an annual summertime boxing tournament thinking they had time to catch plenty of action found out differently Saturday evening.
Cancellation of at least 11 fights – caused by uneven weights or no-shows, resulted in just four fights on the night. Tyres Williams, trainer for the host team Lincoln Neighborhood Center spent most of his time, in the end, trying to explain the unexpected changes.
“It’s part of the game,” Williams said. “We just have to keep going. Every farmer doesn’t have a great crop every year. We can’t let this get us down. We have to move forward and keep going.”
Nonetheless, many in the crowd said they enjoyed the fights that they saw at the Armory. Especially the final fight that matched Eric Thompson of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands against Vonterious McClendon of Mobile, Ala.
“They were very, very good,” said Darnell Baker, trainer at Brick House Boxing. “I gave that last fight a standing ovation. Both of them were strong fighters. I was impressed with the red corner fighter (Thompson) even though he needs to improve his condition.”
In the only other fight that latecomers saw, Buddy Hawkins got a second round stoppage over Aziz Ferguson of the host Lincoln Center team. He had taken three standing eight-counts before the bout was stopped.
Ferguson was one of two fighters from the host team, both losing. However, Williams said his fighters gained plenty of experience despite the outcome.
“I wanted them to step up to a way better level of fighters,” he said.
Baker brought two fighters to the event. Neither of them got a match, although one had an opponent who was switched for another match. Still, he had no complaint.
“I feel fine about it because fortunately, we didn’t have to travel to come to this fight,” Baker said.
The team from St. Croix was hardest hit by the pullouts. Trainer Otoniel Ortiz brought two fighters from the island, flying to Jacksonville then driving to Tallahassee.
“We are a little disappointed after all the hard work and putting in our money to come here, but the guys needed the experience,” Ortiz said, adding that the trip was worthwhile for his fighters.
“Every trip is a learning experience,” he said. “This will help them pick up their training.”
Ortiz said he’ll consider coming back to the tournament next year. Getting a spot in the tournament will be a little different starting next year, though.
Teams will have to pay a non-refundable registration fee that Williams said he hopes will make them more committed to showing up.