There was a lot happening on the Sunshine Coast Saturday, April 1, but probably the best $20 a person could have spent was at the Sunshine Coast Boxing Club’s (SCBC) War on the Shore 5 amateur boxing event at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre.
With nine fights on the card, the 350 in attendance got a lot of bang for their buck with Coast boxers and visiting clubs from Parksville, Victoria, Surrey and Kelowna having fit and ready boxers in the ring to put on a show.
And what a show the boxers put on, with Gibsons’ Angela Cantarutti winning a split decision over Victoria’s Terris Smith in a rubber match between the two women in the four-round main-event bout.
Smith, by far the taller of the boxers, won the first round easily using her technical Olympic boxing style. The second was a “pick ‘em” round as Cantarutti closed in on Smith, forcing her to clinch to hold off the aggressive Cantarutti.
In the final two rounds Cantarutti tired Smith with her pressuring boxing style as she would bob and weave under Smith’s right hand and land her own counter punches.
The venue fell quiet as those in attendance waited for ring announcer Rick Shannon to deliver the judge’s decision.
The hometown crowd erupted when Cantarutti was declared the winner of this BC Title elimination bout and had her hand raised by referee Dale Walters.
Cantarutti now has the right to challenge the No. 1 contender for the vacant BC Featherweight Title.
In the semi-final bout, Gibsons’ Graham Porter at 225 pounds went to war with Kelowna’s 257-pound Rob Mason-Brown in a battle of super heavyweights.
Potter was the better boxer technically while the massive Mason-Brown was the stationary heavy punching adversary.
The crowd would gasp in amazement that these big men could throw and take such heavy punches, a testament to their training and competitiveness.
The fight became a thrilling back and forth tilt with Porter landing a few more big punches to take a split decision over the worthy Mason-Brown.
This fight has rematch potential, said SCBC founder Rick Shannon, it was that exciting.
In what the judges voted as the Fight of the Night award winner, Eli Wyse of Parksville won a close decision over Sechelt’s Marcus Davies in a 168-pound war.
Both boxers are heavy-handed sluggers who have a lot of guts but lack defensively.
Wyse landed the more telling shots in the first half of this three rounder, but the warrior Davies kept forging forward and tired Wyse in the final round. Still, it was not enough to win the judges’ favour in this crowd-pleasing affair.
Davies’ coach Rick Shannon said he feels Davies would win a rematch if the fight is over more rounds. “Davies’ pressuring style tends to put him behind on the scorecards earlier in his fights, but he wears down his opponents over a longer distance, which has become the trademark of our boxers since the George Vourtsis era began.”
Dave Hollett of the SCBC stepped up two weight divisions vs. Victoria’s Anthony Varela, an undefeated boxer.
The size difference quickly showed as the rock-solid Varela caught Hollet with a barrage of huge punches early, breaking Hollett’s nose. Hollett wanted to continue but ringside physician Dr. Paul Murphy advised referee Greg Harrison of Ladner to stop the fight.
“This is amateur boxing, and as rough as it is, we still want our boxers to be able to return to work or school after their bouts, so we respect and support the decision of our doctor and referee,” Shannon said.
Murphy was presented with a plaque in appreciation of his five years as ringside physician throughout the War on the Shore series.
In a positive start to his amateur career, Roberts Creek’s 15-year-old Aiden McKenzie opened the show with a three-round spar with Surrey’s Dilawar Dhanoa in the junior category.
“Boxing against the heavier and more experienced Surrey boy, Aiden put up a good effort and is one of the future crowd favourites with our club,” Shannon said.
In all there were nine bouts, four of which featured matches between visiting boxers who came to Gibsons to support this fifth anniversary event.
Shannon spoke of the SCBC’s appreciation of its sponsors and volunteers without whom the club could not have started in 2008 and have grown to where it has a gym other clubs envy in Andy’s Plaza at 851 Gibsons Way.
“Our War on the Shore events have become a favourite stop on the BC boxing circuit,” he said.
The event was sanctioned by the Combative Sports Association Of BC (Combsport) who brought in the officials from the Lower Mainland.
Coast musician Ashley Hauntala sang “O Canada” and performed one of her original songs in the ring during the intermission.
Popular with the audience was round card girl Monika Vanvliet.
A special recognition must go out to event co-ordinator and matchmaker Randy Hollett and his committee for their time and efforts in putting on this show. Another key volunteer is Kathy Christ who each year develops the detailed event program and does the club’s photography in her role as the SCBC’s historian.
For information about the Sunshine Coast Boxing Club contact Randy Hollett at 604-989-5180.