Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Gardener makes impressive pro debut

Published:Friday | April 8, 2016 | 4:00 AMLeroy Brown
Referee Peter Richards (centre) declaring Michael Gardener the winner of Wednesday night’s Contender bout at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium. At left is the American boxer José Guzman.

Jamaican welterweight Michael Gardener made a spectacular debut to the professional ranks of boxing on Wednesday night when he scored a knockout victory over JosÈ Guzman from the United States SA in the fifth week of competition in the Wray and Nephew Welterweight Contender 2016 series at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium.

Guzman hit the deck at one minute and 22 seconds of the second round and could not make it back to his feet before the 10-count was administered by referee Peter Richards.

There were some question marks surrounding Gardener's appearance in the competition with no professional experience, but he stated before the fight that it would not matter.

"I have had good experience in 40 amateur bouts all over the world. I am in the best condition of my life, and I am going to win this fight convincingly. It will be pure excitement," he stated at the weigh-in.

He then proceeded to back up his words with his fists.

Guzman, with 20 professional fights and a 6-13-1 record in a 10-year career, was also confident. "My experience will make the difference, and I have been in the ring with the best," he stated. He did show in the early stages of the fight that he has experience. His jabbing was pinpointed and he scored freely in the first round, but Gardener made it clear right from the outset that he had a knockout in mind.

He threw some good jabs, but his main target was his opponent's body, and he put the full weight of his 146 pounds behind every hook that he landed. The first round was fast and sometimes furious, with Guzman throwing mostly jabs and Gardener mixing it up with jabs to the head and hooks to the body.

NO CHANCES TAKEN

The pace stepped up in the second round and Gardener came out of a clash of heads with a cut over his right eye. He dabbed at the cut with his gloves and then seemed to decide not to take any chances, with the fight possibly being stopped.

He moved in aggressively and suddenly landed a hard right hook to Guzman's body that made the American wince and then fall to his knees in agony. He bent over, with his head on the canvas, as referee Richards gave the count. He did lift himself briefly, but the pain was obviously too much for him, and even after the count reached 10, he remained on his knees.

In two entertaining amateur bouts, heavyweight Ricardo Brown from the G.C. Foster gym outpointed Oshane Watson from Heavy Metal gym; and light heavyweight Renaldo Beckford, who is based in St Mary, defeated Dwayne Henry from Stanley Couch gym, also on points.