Davis, Gardener give Canadians a bruising at PanAm box-off
Welterweight boxer Kestna Davis and middleweight Michael Gardener, who are trained by AIBA 3-Star coach, Carl Grant, at Stony Hill's Bruising gym, showed that Jamaica still has excellent young boxing talent.
They successfully shook off challenges from Canadian-based Jamaicans Aljermaine Burnett, Khadel Morris and Ryan Robinson last Friday and Saturday, to take top honours in the Jamaica Boxing Board's box-off for the Pan American Games qualifying tournament, which will be held in Tijuana, Mexico, from June 2-9.
The box-off took place at the Stanley Couch gym, Victoria Avenue, in Kingston and Grant told The Gleaner that Saturday night was "the happiest night" of his seven-year-old coaching career.
Eleven locally-based boxers in six weight categories - from lightweight to heavyweight - participated, while three flew in from Canada to seek berths.
The Canadian challenge provided an interesting sub-plot to the two-nights of competition, as the question that had to be answered was whether the Jamaicans could defeat them.
On the first night, 20-year-old Davis faced the first of two Canadian challenges, when he went up against Burnett, who has represented Jamaica in the past. Davis, who has a 48-8 record, noticeably concentrated more on landing his punches on the target areas than usual. He showed good balance throughout and after landing his jabs, he would then make himself an elusive target. He won the first two rounds comfortably.
In the third round, a frustrated Burnett went on the hunt, but was side-tracked when he picked up a warning from referee Owen Nelson for holding. He then ran into further trouble when, just as the referee was completing his signals to the judges, he raced across the ring and viciously attacked Davis, who was standing with his hands down in a neutral corner, waiting for the command to resume action. The referee promptly disqualified him for this blatant foul.
Davis moved on to the final on Saturday and gave another superb display of ring generalship and two-fisted punching, to take a close and hard fought majority decision against Morris, who had defeated him in December last year.
He suffered a cut over his right eye in the second round - that gave him some anxious moments - as Dr. Andre McDonald was asked to take a look at it twice, but it was not severe enough to cause a stoppage.
Twenty-one year old Gardener, who has a 28-10 record, had to pull out all the stops to get the better of 19-year-old Ryan Robinson, a protege of former world heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, who was in his corner. This was a very competitive bout and Gardener won by majority decision.
On the final night, Gardener went on to defeat his old nemesis, Janathan Hanson, by majority decision, to take the honours.
In other bouts, lightweight Shimon Gayle from Boys' Town defeated Patrick Sahadeo from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), heavyweight Bassanio Shaw from the JDF defeated Clive Valentine from St Thomas, light welterweight Rohan Stewart from Sugar Olympic defeated Donald Patrick from the JDF, and light heavyweight Ian Darby from the JDF defeated Oshane Cleary from Heavy Metal.