Bowen facing big challenge in Barbados
Reyel Bowen and Krista Dyer will fight in co-main event bouts at the Sanda Kicks and Licks at St Leonard’s Boys’ School in St Michael, Barbados, next weekend.
Dubbed “Barbados v The Rest of the World”, the mixed martial arts expo will also feature local fighters Quennel Robinson, kickboxer Johneiro Outerbridge, as well as debutants Dean Jones and Antoine Fox.
Bowen’s bout against Emerson Hurley, who is considered one of Barbados’ toughest fighters, will be the Bermudian’s first since his victory at the same event 12 months ago.
He will be moving up two weight categories to meet Hurley and said he is excited by the intriguing challenge.
“I like to be at my best fighting shape and like fight at 185 pounds,” said Bowen, of the Bermuda Sanshou Association.
“Fighting over 200 pounds is going to be a challenge but one I’m looking forward to.
“I’m trying to maintain being heavy and still be fit at the same time. I’m on the cusp of 200 pounds; I haven’t piled on too much weight. I’ve incorporated some weight training into my programme, so hopefully all that assists for when I get into the ring and have to trade power for power.”
Bowen said he has altered his game plan accordingly for the larger, heavier Hurley.
“Usually in my own weight class I feel as though I have a chance to [fight] straight ahead,” he said. “This time I plan to implement a lot more angles and use more smart fighting techniques.”
Garon Wilkinson, the BSA president, admits Bowen is facing a major test considering the size and experience of his opponent.
“Emerson weighs 230 pounds compared to Reyel who will probably weigh-in at the 201 limit,” said Wilkinson, who is travelling with fellow BSA coaches Talia Iris, Sentwali Woolridge and Dueane Dill.
“We’re still trying to pack a few pounds on Reyel. If push comes to shove he’ll just weigh in wearing his clothes. He usually fights at 187 so he’s going up 14 pounds.”
BSA fighter Dyer, who beat Ragan Beedy, of the United States, at the Fairmont Southampton in November, will face Sara Buczek in a rematch, having lost to the Canadian at last year’s event.
Wilkinson said Dyer has made huge strides over the past 12 months and “developed as a fighter and not just as an athlete”.
He said: “Krista is not the same fighter she used to be. Her fighting instincts and knowing when to do certain techniques is really starting to kick in. She’s been training for more than four years now and has developed into one of the elite athletes in the region. Her event will be the main event; the [organisers] are really pushing female athletes.”
Both Bowen and Dyer will use their fights as preparation for the Pan American Wushu Championships in Buenos Aires in November.
Other nations taking part in Sanda Kicks and Licks are Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Guadeloupe.
BSA Panda youth fighters Sebastian Davis, 12, Alessandro Davis, 11, Matai Phipps, 11, Nathaniel Thomas, 9, Phoenix Palacio, 10 and Shaela Bailey, 11, will be tasting their first overseas competition in Barbados.