Cayman boxers Brandy Barnes and Hepseba Angel both competed in the Celtic Cup in Ireland last weekend, both women holding their own against opponents who had considerably more experience in the ring.
The Celtic Cup is a major international boxing event for youth and senior boxers, attracting competitors from all over the world and this event was Hepseba Angel’s first international competition.
Brandy Barnes first fight was in the Elite category against an impressive left-handed opponent, Chantelle Robinson. That fight ended in a loss for Barnes, however it was in the 52kg weight class against a veteran elite fighter and Barnes held her own against the more experienced fighter throughout most of the bout.
Brandy’s next bout was in the 48kg Senior A Class and she pulled off an impressive win over an opponent who had a considerable 18 fight record with National Novice, National Intermediate and National Senior championships to her credit. This was a good win for Brandy, earning her a gold medal in that class for the Cayman Islands, demonstrating she has benefited tremendously from the intense training and sparring camp over the previous few weeks.
Commenting on her experience, Brandy said: “it was the first time having to fight twice, back-to-back, in a tournament so I’m pleased to have gained the experience.”
Hebseba Angel’s fight was also impressive, gaining a silver medal for the Cayman Islands. Prior to the bout, Hepseba had no international fights under her belt, and her performance in the ring this weekend was quite impressive as she stepped up from the Novice class to fight in the Elite competition.
The bout allowed Hepseba to test her impressive strength and stamina against a seasoned opponent and to gain valuable experience in the ring. Overall, it was a learning experience for Hepseba, who had to quickly adjust to the rules of competition at the Elite level.
Coach Liam Brereton commented: “Hepseba is a complete novice with no international experience, so just to box in the competition was a big plus, despite having only three fights. I decided to let her box at the Elite level based on the success she has had sparring prior to the competition.
Even though she lost, the fight was close, but the other girl has much more experience and was getting off the cleaner shots.”
The boxers will continue to train in Ireland at Brereton’s gym, and this will include twice daily training sessions and a high level of sparring. Barnes has already sparred with twelve different opponents since her arrival in Ireland, among those are French Elite fighters between 75 and 81kg.
Coach Liam added: “For boxers to improve, they need proper sparring and competition like the Celtic Box Cup, where they can fight boxers at their level and above.”
The boxers continue to set their sights on next year’s Commonwealth Games and this weekend’s tournament was a tremendous opportunity for Barnes and Angel to increase their international boxing experience.
The Cayman Islands Boxing Association continues to be grateful for the generous sponsorship commitment by local financial services provider Grant Thornton Specialist Services and Elite Marble & Granite, which has allowed the pair to travel to Ireland for several weeks of intense training and competition as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games and other international competitions.