Celebrity boxing card awaits final approval

Sports



Soca artiste Marvin ‘Swappi’ Davis (L) and TT dancehall entertainer Anthony ‘Squeezy Rankin’ La Fluer face off during the unveiling of their celebrity boxing match card at Alicia’s Palace Guest House, Lady Chamcellor Road, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. – SUREASH CHOLAIA

RESIDENTS of Sea Lots, together with fans of soca and dancehall from across the region, will enjoy an amateur boxing bout between popular home town artistes Swappi (Marvin Davis) and Squeezy Rankin (Anthony La Fleur), on February 26, granted final approval from the relevant authorities.

Once cleared to go on, the multi-bout card will take place at the Center of Excellence, Macoya, with Swappi and Squeezy Rankin featuring in the six-round headline light-cruiserweight fight. Umi Marcano and several other local performers are also expected to compete.

The event was unveiled at Alicia’s Palace, Lady Chancellor Hill, Port of Spain, by promoter Wayne Stewart Griffith, alongside Boxu Potts, regional chairman of the World Boxing Council and long-time promoter, who is lending his experience in its planning. Vince Dopwell is also promoting the event.

“Welcome to the rejuvenation of boxing in TT. It’s been long in coming,” said Potts, who expressed near certainty that the event will go on in spite of the cancellation of similar Celebrity Boxing Entertainment events in recent months.

Among them was a much-hyped clash between Swappi and another local dancehall artiste Trinidad Killa (Kern Joseph), the latter of whom withdrew.

Squeezy Rankin taunted his nemesis for this, saying, “First time in the history of boxing we have a champion by back-outs… Not by knock-outs but by back-outs.”

“And you (will back out) next,” Swappi replied.

“The dog in meh smelling the fear coming from that corner,” Squeezy jeered. “Yuh see today? Ah going an bring two hit song for spite and then ah going an mash up the place and then ah going an cuff out yuh face.”

Swappi fired back, saying, “Yuh saying it wrong, Squeezy? What if yuh get beat down? When yuh get beat down, then yuh bring out yuh tune. Oh gosh, don’t rush it nah. Take yuh time.”

Swappi has been training with members of the national boxing team at their current base in Diego Martin. Squeezy, who is new to boxing was labeled as the “new kid on the block.” Both weigh around 200 lbs.

Griffith gave insight into the concept which started in Sea Lots.

LYRICAL JABS: Dancehall-soca artiste Anthony ‘Squeezy Rankin’ La Fleur (R) gestures as soca sensation Marvin ‘Swappi’ Davis (L) looks on during the unveiling of the duo’s celebrity boxing match, at Alicia’s Palace Guest House, Lady Chancellor Road , Port of Spain, on Tuesday. – SUREASH CHOLAIA

“During the height of the pandemic when we were under an SoE, young men, especially the at-risk and male adolescents, built-up energies,” he said. “There wasn’t any real opportunities for contact sports. There wasn’t any partying, cultural activities, et cetera, given that the entire place was under lockdown.

“So the young men in the community of Sea Lots decided to use that opportunity to get themselves involved in sport. We know that there’s a lot of frustration, a lot of bitterness that young men experience from time to time. There is a lot of unemployment in our communities and we decided to channel that frustration and channel that energy into sport.”

It spawned from a light-hearted feud between Swizzle Stick and Mouttxt, two men who some might consider being minor celebrities for their social media antics. Representing their communities, they went head-to-head in a clash that went viral on social media.

Griffith said Swappi has been largely responsible for attracting the interest of entertainers to the concept.

Potts said the hosts are hoping to sign a pay-per-view agreement on local television. “We will soon, as early as next week, send out the signals as to what the (viewing) platform is going to be like, what ticket sales are going to be like, and where you (could pay) for these tickets.”

He ambitiously stated that live viewership from around the world could number in the millions if promoted sufficiently and with the help of sponsors.

Amidst the banter, the event is being promoted as one to “bring people together,” help curb violence and pervasive crime, and attract young people to boxing.

Swappi has been in training alongside national boxers at their Diego Martin base, while Squeezy Rankin is new to boxing. The supporting bouts will see Akeem Wilson take on Shequille Toppin (lightweight); Kelson Raymond vs Keon Harry (light heavyweight); Tyrone Thomas take on Haile Bacchus (middleweight) and Marcano vs. Kerry John (junior welterweight). A junior (Under-10) welterweight bout is also scheduled.

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