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Venezuelan victory primes Busta Fighters for US clash
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
LAST WEEKEND's 7-3 victory for Jamaica's combined martial arts team over Venezuela in Caracas is being hailed as the perfect warm-up ahead of the final leg of the Busta Pan Am Challenge, when they will face the United States in Philadelphia in May.
May's assignment against the US will be the first of two meetings between the teams, as they are also booked to face-off at the US Open World Team Sparring Championships in Orlando in July, where Jamaica are two-time defending champions.
The Busta Pan Am Challenge, formerly the Busta Caribbean Championship, was upgraded to include North and Central America after Jamaica was extended in the showdown which included Germany, the US, New Zealand, Argentina and Britain at last year's US Open.
After an easy passage in the first year of the championship, which they won comfortably, Jamaica had to survive a nail-biting final to retain their title.
The team's sponsor, Jamaica Beverages, said upgrading to the Busta Pan Am Challenge was to ensure tougher competition ahead of the prestigious US Open, the biggest martial arts open in the world.
"It is the biggest of the lot and at the start of each year, that's what we plan for. Our sponsorship gets a big boost there, especially with Jamaica being defending champions," said Shoucair.
"To have a big banner in Disney, where nobody really knows about Busta, is a major thing for us, as we plan to launch our product there.
"At the first tournament, I really wasn't worried. But last year, you could see it was a different level with the likes of Argentina and the US. I am assuming this year it will get even tougher. Everybody must now be training to stop the Busta Fighters from claiming the hat-trick," he added.
Shoucair, who was elated with the win, said he never, for an instant, doubted Jamaica against Venezuela.
"I had no doubt whatsoever, none at all. I have no doubt, not again. If they were to lose, it would be a big disappointment. I have come to expect them to win every match. It's a bad thing because somebody is going to come along one day and beat them."
Jamaica got a walkover in the opening bout as the hosts failed to field a challenger against world microweight champion Alrick Wanliss. This left Jamaica needing only four points to win, a task which had Venezuela battling gallantly before a breakthrough was achieved by Dussard, handing the combined team victory.
Shawn Cummings also put in a creditable performance in the team contest.
In the individuals, Jamaica dominated with Kenneth Edwards finding the form he failed to show in the team match. Dussard also dominated and Wanliss fought hard against an opponent 20 lbs heavier, bringing the match-up to sudden death before winning.
Arthur Barrows and Cummings also had reasonable showings in the individual bouts. Barrows etched out a narrow victory but Cummings lost in his final.
Captain Jason McKay, competing in his first match since an injury almost sent him into retirement last September, was in good form in the super heavyweight division, but went down in the final to Ernie Michel Smith in a close decision.