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Antoine the lightweight champ

Ezra Stuart in Guyana

Antoine the lightweight champ

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It wasn’t a knockout this time but Barbadian Miguel “Hands of Stone” Antoine, showcased stamina, a steely resolve and superb skills to become the first Commonwealth Zonal Super lightweight boxing champion.
In what was his toughest bout ever, Antoine scored a unanimous points decision over the combative Guyanese Mark Austin in their thrilling ten-round title fight at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Friday night before close to a 1000 boxing fans.
It was the feature bout of an action-packed monthly Guyana Fight Night Pro-Am eight-bout card, which was shown live on National television here and for the first time in his professional career, Antoine was carried to the full distance.
The hard-fought victory carried Antoine’s professional record to 14-0 and at the end of the contest, he acknowledged that Austin, a 20-year-old south paw, who was undefeated his previous six fights, was a tough nut to crack.
“It was very tough, coming right down to the rounds and I must thank my team Sam Layne and Tim O’Brien (gear sponsor) from the USA. Also all my fans here in Guyana, who supported me in this fight,” Antoine said after the bout.
Antoine started very aggressively, landing a flurry of punches to the body and head of Austin, who lost his mouth piece from a blow to the jaw as well.
With Austin forced back onto the ropes, it appeared a first round knockout was coming as Antoine was unrelenting as he kept piling on the punches.
“I hit him with some very good punches in the first round but he is strong man and won’t go down. His head was like a super big rock. I hit him with everything I had,” noted Antoine.
As the fight progressed, Austin grew in confidence and counter-attacked with spasmodic upper cuts and jabs to actually hit Antoine a few times.
But whenever Antoine had him in trouble, he cleverly spat out his mouth piece, causing referee Eion Jardine to temporarily stop the bout.
Antoine seemed to hurt his left hand in the fifth round after landing another stinging blow to Austin’s chin and this prevented him from using the jab with telling effect.
But in the seventh round, Austin’s knees buckled from a barrage of blows and he went down momentarily but Antoine was still unable to deliver the knockout punch. To Austin’s credit, he came back strongly and caught Antoine behind the head and scored a glancing left jab to Antoine’s chin.
“It is not easy to come and fight in a man’s homeland for a title. He
(Austin) is a very good fighter. He is fit and strong and can stand up to any amount of punches,” Antoine noted.
Lionel Sullivan scored the fight 97-94 while fellow judges Francis Abraham had it 97-93 and Andrew Thorne, 99-92 in favour of Antoine.
In the other pro bouts, Dexter Marques scored a unanimous points victory over Hewley Roberts in a four-round super bantamweight bout and Rudolph Fraser also got a unanimous decision over his Barbados-based Guyanese compatriot Gardel Roberts in their lightweight contest.
In a “catchweight” women’s professional bout, Mandessa Moses, who weighed in at 124 pounds, also got a unanimous points decision over Veronica Blackman, who was 65 pounds heavier.