Donovan Cridland had nearly two years of frustration to work out in the ring, and it showed.
Cridland, a 22-year-old fighter with Kelowna’s Los Gatos Locos boxing club, fought 12 bouts in 2019. But his ambitions to go pro have been limited by having had just two fights in 2020 and now two more in 2021 due to the pandemic.
So when he stepped into the ring Saturday, Cridland wasted little time turning in a winning performance by earning a split decision against East Vancouver’s John Quigamon in the main event of Fight Night 8 at the Nelson and District Rod and Gun Club.
“That tonight, that was a really good fight,” said a bloodied but excited Cridland. “That kid was a good kid. Tough, smart, technical as hell, good guy too.”
Cridland used effective feints to work his way in and land several combinations with a snappy jab. But in the second round, Quigamon, fighting for Quinit Boxing, answered with a shot that thudded against Cridland and had his coach calling out for a response.
Cridland sat through the break and returned with his answer, which included working Quigamon off the ropes and landing a number of hard jabs. The 71-kilogram, Elite Open fight ended in Cridland’s favour.
“I assumed he was going to be a hard to hit guy, and I was definitely right about that,” said Cridland. “He didn’t let it come in easy. The range was a huge thing, straight punches are the ones that usually land so that was the game plan.”
Fight Night 8, the first card Nelson Boxing Club hosted since October 2019, had all the appearances of a normal event with the exception of officials giving the ring a thorough cleaning between bouts, 50 per cent of the usual spectators and vaccine status checked at the door.
When the bell rang, however, the pandemic had no impact on the 11-bout card.
There was little between Nelson’s Makalu Babott and East Vancouver’s Oliver Vega in a 57-kg, Youth Open bout. For every jab Babott landed with his reach advantage, Vega countered in close with several hard shots including a late hook. A split decision in the end went Vega’s way.
Basir Alsawaidi of Surrey’s Savard Boxing waited out a charging Austin Dao of East Vancouver only to connect on a left hook that jarred him. Alsawaidi landed one more hard left seconds before the first round ended, then handily controlled the rest of the fight en route to a win by stoppage in the 75-kg, Elite Novice fight.
In a 55-kg, Junior B fight, Dante Rozas of Kelowna opened strong in the first round against Nelson’s Porter Hanson, who rebounded with some nice combinations in the second. But Rozas landed a hard body shot in the third and was solid throughout as he earned a unanimous decision in only his second-career bout.
Nelson’s Matt Brown mostly had his way with a tentative Red Camales of East Vancouver, who appeared to be waiting for the perfect punch. Camales did knock Brown in the nose in the final round, but Brown was undeterred and used a combination on the visitor that paused the match. That was enough for Brown to secure a unanimous decision in the 64-kg, Elite Novice match.
Djavan Mayer wasted little time in his 48-kg, Junior B bout against Cranbrook’s Jaron Ewasiuk. Mayer backed Ewasiuk into an early corner with a series of jabs, and controlled the centre of the ring for the rest of the match. That impressed the judges and won Mayer a unanimous decision.
A contender for fight of the night was a throw down between Nelson’s Wamuna Fukada and Cranbrook’s Jaxson Chisholm.
Fukada had to defend some early aggression from Chisholm, but his patience paid off with a shot that bloodied Chisholm’s nose. The Cranbrook fighter continued to press in the second with hard shots, but in the third Fukada tagged Chisholm with a jab that forced a pause. Fukada went on to win a unanimous decision in the 59-kg, Junior C fight.
In a 64-kg, Elite Novice fight, Surrey’s Alessandro Singon used his height and reach to hold off East Vancouver’s Conph Zhi. That forced Zhi to get in close, which worked out with some connected punches but mostly meant a lot of hugs in the ring. It didn’t make for the most thrilling bout, but Zhi’s tenacity earned him a split decision.
Nelson’s Lola Brouillete and Cranbrook’s Kya Chisholm (55 kg) boxed a spirited match that was far better quality than most exhibition bouts with two smiling, very game young fighters.
In other exhibition fights, Nelson’s Will Adams faced Cranbrook’s Teagan Seymour (48.2 kg), while Cranbrook’s Hailey Seibel boxed Addison Vicars of Salmon Arm’s Bulldogs Boxing (34 kg).