Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Train at home, conquer the world

JBA outlines ambitious development programme for local boxers

Published:Sunday | May 9, 2021 | 12:25 AMLivingston Scott - Gleaner Writer
Jones
Jones

Edmund Declou (right) grimaces in reaction to a left hook from two-time Contender Series winner Sakima ‘Mr Smooth’ Mullings, during a bout at the National Arena on Friday, March 16, 2018.
Edmund Declou (right) grimaces in reaction to a left hook from two-time Contender Series winner Sakima ‘Mr Smooth’ Mullings, during a bout at the National Arena on Friday, March 16, 2018.
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Stephen ‘Bomber’ Jones, who was recently re-elected unopposed as president of the Jamaica Boxing Association (JBA) for his fourth consecutive two-year term, said the body is preparing to host more international fights and launch a programme for...

Stephen ‘Bomber’ Jones, who was recently re-elected unopposed as president of the Jamaica Boxing Association (JBA) for his fourth consecutive two-year term, said the body is preparing to host more international fights and launch a programme for local boxers, which will allow them to earn while developing their professional careers here in Jamaica.

The boxing boss highlighted World Boxing Association (WBA) title bouts on local soil, as a major focus of his administration in the coming term.

“We will bring down different fighters and have as many cards. Our relationship with the WBA and with international professional promoters puts us in the position, so we are ready (to host fights),” Jones stated.

Transition from grassroots

Jones also pointed to the JBA’s development programme plans, which he says will address the fallout from the cancellation of the Contender series, adding that the initiative will allow boxers to transition from grassroots to amateur through to the professional boxing ranks, without having to leave the country.

“For a couple years now people have been asking if they can make a living from pro boxing, because after something like the Contender, where else would they go? We have been able to streamline from grassroots to the professional, where we can have Jamaica in a position where careers can not only be launched, but they can stay here and actually get fights and get to a stage where our Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters (former WBA featherweight champion) has been,” said Jones.

“So we are very excited about the future, because Jamaica will have a platform where they can make a seamless transition from the grassroots to the national level and on to the professional and world championship level, and everything can be done here,” Jones added.

The programme will be launched as soon as the JBA is granted approval to return to activity, and Jones said every boxer will have the opportunity to use the platform to make a career for themselves.

Boxers will also be paired with managers, who will ensure they get proper fights until they are able to build a good enough record.

“We want to ensure the managers show proper matchmaking. It is not just like the Contender, where some boxers are placed in the lion’s den. We want to ensure they are properly matched and that they get the right opportunity once they put in the work and build a good record on the WBA ranking,” he said.

“We have at least eight boxers who could turn pro and, in about three years, have a shot at the title,” he stated.

I-Fights Boxing Promotions CEO, Chris Joy, welcomed the idea of boxers living and developing careers locally, and added that he has boxing equipment in the United States ready and waiting to be shipped to Jamaica to assist in building out the local infrastructure.

Joy, who has 15 Jamaican boxers on his books, strongly believes Jamaica has the talent; however, he believes that in order for the boxers to have a greater chance of success, travelling overseas, training and sparring with world-class fighters is also an important element.

“Part of the boxing culture is that these guys need to spar with world-class fighters, so they have to leave Jamaica and train in the US and other places where they can adopt new fighting styles,” said Joy.

He thinks the programme, as Jones explained it, can work, but he believes having the overseas option gives the boxers a larger scope.

“Staying neutral means everything has to come to them, but they should have the flexibility to do both. That is how you develop world champions. Also, you shouldn’t have to stay in the US or in the UK. You should be able to travel there and come back to your country and then move forward, but that is not the case,” he said.

He insists that on his return to Jamaica he will sit and talk with JBA to assist in getting boxers visas to travel abroad.

“I want to sit with the boxing board and see if they can help me get these guys documentation so they are able to travel abroad. This is just as important as building the infrastructure in Jamaica,” Joy stated.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com