The budding rivalry between Okanagan boxers Nic (TNT) Maric from the Vernon Boxing Club and Josh Jarmillo of Kelowna’s Los Gatos Locos Club may not have the historical significance of Ali-Frasier, or the ferocity of Tyson-Holyfield, but it’s gaining momentum.
The two met for the second time in less than a month Saturday at the Vernon Recreation Centre, fight No. 6 on a card of 12 bouts at the first Ian Gibson Tribute Boxing Show hosted by the Vernon Boxing Club.
Spurred on by cheering sections in the near capacity crowd of 300, the fighters left everything in the ring.
Jarmillo avenged a loss in Rutland to Maric by scoring a unanimous decision in their 145 pound Youth Novice bout. Maric was deducted a point in the third and final round by the referee for continually ducking his head.
The evening was a tribute to longtime Vernon Boxing Club and Boxing B.C. Hall of Fame official Ian Gibson, who died at age 85 in December 2020. It brought together fighters from clubs in Vernon, Kelowna, Vancouver, Surrey, Chilliwack, Kamloops, Quesnel and Edmonton for the first boxing matches in Vernon in many years.
After timekeeper Wayne Swann of Kimberley opened the proceedings with a standing 10-count ringing of the bell to honour Gibson’s memory, the fights began with a 170-pound Elite Novice clash between Connor Olsen of the Salmon Arm Bulldogs Boxing Club and Jackson Coull of Heavy Metal Boxing in Kamloops. The ref stopped the bout in Coull’s favour in the second round after a flurry of punches to Olsen along the ropes.
Vernon’s Brett (Ouch) Murray kicked off the four-match exhibition slate with a spirited battle in the 190-pound Elite Novice class with Jamie Chadwick of Surrey’s Port Kells Boxing Club.
The other exhibition matches (no winners declared) saw Salmon Arm’s Trea Fisher take on Daniel Tenbrink of Southside Legion in Edmonton in the Junior C class; Sonny Meredith from Chilliwack’s Diamond Boxing met Dante Ortiz Rozas from Los Gatos Locos in a Junior B bout; and an all-Kelowna Los Gatos Locos heavyweight Elite Novice fight had Patrick Cartwright leaving Landon Onkel bloodied in the end.
Onkel, born in Vernon, endeared himself to the crowd by entering the ring wearing a Vernon Vipers jersey, and singing John Denver’s classic song Take Me Home Country Roads.
A 125-pound Elite Novice Female fight between Melissa O’Flynn of Quesnel’s 2 Rivers Boxing and Keisha Lacroix of Heavy Metal Boxing had the crowd cheering and yelling encouragement in all three rounds.
The spirited bout featured many punches and big hugs from the fighters at the end. O’Flynn was awarded a unanimous decision to the delight of her two young sons, Ezekiel and Randy, one of whom decided to try and show mom a video of her fight while she was defending herself along the ropes from Lacroix’s punches.
Ethan Lee from the Diaz Boxing Club in Vancouver stopped Griffyn Gooch of Vancouver’s Quinit Boxing Coub in their 130-pound Youth Novice clash. The ref stopped the bout with one second left in the second round.
Corey Vallee from Quinit won a unanimous decision of Alex Lee of Diaz in their 150-pound Elite Novice fight.
Kinley Huber from Diaz recorded two standing eight-counts against Mavric Gomez of Southside Legion in winning a unanimous decision in their 165-pound Elite Novice bout.
Closest fight of the night saw Ijaaz Faheem from Surrey School of Boxing record a split-decision victory over Donovan Cridland of Los Gatos Locos in their 156-pound Elite Open clash.
And the fight voted Bout of the Night came at the very end, the main event, a 135-pound Elite Open battle between Rome Macalalag of Diaz against Ejaz Mohammed of Port Kells. Macalalag survived a standing eight-count seconds into the third round to score a unanimous decision.
Gibson’s daughter, Elizabeth, presented Macalalag with the Bout of the Night trophy.