A big win, and a big advancement. That’s what a pair of Quesnel boxers each got out of a trip to fight at one of Canada’s top clubs. Melissa O’Flynn and Robyn Grant travelled together for bouts at Griffins Boxing & Fitness in North Vancouver on April 28 and for both, it was a success.
O’Flynn, on the comeback route after taking some time off of the sport, lost a tight battle by split decision.
Grant, who earned her way onto Team BC this year and is a rising star, won a split decision over a particularly challenging opponent. She took on veteran boxer Saphir Vendroux, also a member of Team BC, typically two weight classes heavier. Their Team BC co-coach Dave Brett suggested the matchup earlier, but Grant was only 53 kgs at that time, and was about to compete at the provincials, so she didn’t want to risk injury to the more powerful puncher. Once provs were done, Grant took the initiative to call back about making the fight happen.
“I don’t mind fighting a bigger opponent,” Grant told The Observer after the bout. “It’s better in my view, bigger target, usually a tad slower and they can’t duck below my waist line.”
Grant bulked up to 57 kgs, which qualified her for the fight to take place in Vendroux’s 60 kg class.
“My fight started out a little rocky, getting used to the different power in the weight category,” Grant said. “But I managed to catch up in points near the end of Round 1. Round 2 was mine, we felt, as well, but too close against a girl that’s in her hometown and gym, we new this third round had to be hands down clear it was my round and I did just that, exhausted, but knowing I only have one more round until the belt is mine. On every flurry I kept repeating in my head ‘every shot is the winning shot,’ a line my sister told me before one of my early fights that has helped me in hard spots in fights. When I heard ‘split decision’ I was a little nervous since we are in her home gym, but then thinking back to that last round, we just had thought there’s no way I’m leaving without that belt. And I did not, leaving with a satisfying W.”
Nobody was cheering louder for the 2 Rivers Boxing Club fighter than O’Flynn, which, given their history, one might think would never happen. Grant said that O’Flynn was “the first girl I ever had a boxing match” with, but over the years she has become “an awesome training partner and friend.”
“Robyn won a belt. She did spectacular, which made it all worth it for me,” said O’Flynn. “I got to help corner her (coach between rounds) and she helped corner me which was also really special. I was legitimately screaming my head off in her third round because she just kept landing these perfect combos and it was amazing to see.”
Grant went into the ring wearing the flag of the Haida Nation, of which she is a member of the Raven Clan rooted to Skidegate on the Haida Gwaii archipelago. She came out wearing an epic prizefighter belt to go with it.
It was Grant’s turn to cheer from the corner when O’Flynn fought.
“My fight was absolutely epic,” O’Flynn said, also up against an opponent with a size differential. “This girl was huge and I mean like shredded, taller, longer reach, and around 12 pounds heavier. It was wild but I gave a really good fight. She got in a of couple punches to the back of my head, which is illegal, and she got called on a few of them but I was really sore the next day.”
Wally Doern, their longtime coach at 2 Rivers Boxing Club, was unable to attend, but O’Flynn is registered these days with Wolves Den Boxing Club in Prince George, after a recent move there, and Grant also lives in Prince George at present, and sometimes trains with O’Flynn even though she maintains her registered affiliation with 2 Rivers. It was Wolves Den coach Chase Tuftin who made the trip.