There was a time in this country, when the dean of them all, Charlie Major Sr., provided a regular boxing competition forum for up-and-coming Bahamian fighters. Many of the top boxers, professional and amateurs, got their start and developed through the years, right at the Nassau Stadium.
Iconic boxing figures such as Douglas Carey, Wilfred Coakley Jr. and Chris Malakius made the same contribution to varying degrees.
Bahamian boxers had ample opportunities to compete in their own backyard, without risking “hometown” decisions in other areas. Elisha Obed made his way up the ladder to world recognition right in this country by headlining many promotions organized by Coakley and Malakius.
Yes, there was a time when there was a big “control factor” in Bahamian professional boxing. That’s not the case today. Our frontline professionals have little choice but to fight outside of the country. The economic climate is not attractive to promoters.
There is not the television market here to entice foreign promoters. So, our heavyweight champion, Sherman “Tank” Williams, has had to campaign outside of the country. His professional record is 36-13-2-one no contest. At least six of those 13 defeats were hometown decisions in favor of his opponents.
Bahamian lightweight champion Edner Cherry has that status because he was born in this country and lived here for the first 11 years of his life. He has never fought in The Bahamas, however. Meacher Major, the super featherweight Bahamian king, has resisted fighting outside of the country more so than the others. Yet, he has had to relent because of little and often no option at home. Ryon “Big Youth” McKenzie is 14-0 and still moving along very well, but his last six fights have been on foreign soil
His last match, in July, was a majority decision in his favor. He should have won the fight unanimously.
Now, there is Taureano Johnson. He won the world Boxing Council Continental of Americas middleweight title in July. Johnson is 15-1 and at 30, primed to go much further in boxing. There are so many world titles floating around these days. He is capable of winning one of them.
However, Johnson does not have the luxury of padding his record at home and then having a promoter bring one of the champions to The Bahamas to defend against him. So he has to do what’s set to happen tonight. He has to box in another country. He is slated to compete tonight in Santo, Domingo, Dominican Republic. He could end up in a close fight and lose the decision. The same could be the case for Williams when he boxes Joseph Parker in New Zealand on October 16. The “control factor” that maneuvers key boxing matches is not to be found at the present time in The Bahamas.
That’s the big ingredient missing in Bahamian pro boxing. The career of Jermain Mackey, the former Commonwealth super middleweight champion, would have taken a much more successful journey if he had the option to fight more at home, when he led the title. Unfortunately, he went into other countries, took ill-advised matches and is now considered a finished fighter.
Dating back to 2009, when he was stopped by Adonis Stevenson, (current WBC light heavyweight champion), Mackey has lost five consecutive fights. He has not won a fight in three years.
It is an unfortunate situation. The Bahamas Boxing Commission is between a rock and a hard place. There are promoters who would like to get into the mix, but their desire is to seek to pay the various shows’ expenses from the proposed gates. The commission is mandated by its affiliation with international associate bodies to ensure that all expenses from a boxing show are paid.
The only way to make certain of that is to have all the purses, etc. provided, to be held in escrow. This is a huge challenge for most. Therein lies the big difficulty for those wishing to promote.
The commission, however, has to do its job to protect the reputation of The Bahamas.
Meanwhile, without that “control factor”, that availability of promotion options in good numbers, pro boxing in the country remains engaged in an uphill struggle.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]