Wray and Nephew boxing Contenders Russell, Placide full of optimism
The wait for the start of the popular Wray & Nephew Middleweight 'Contender' 2015 series ends tonight, when Jamaica's Kemahl Russell and Guyana's Kevin Placide trade punches over six rounds at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium, Old Hope Road, to see who will move on to the next round of the competition.
There will also be two amateur bouts, starting at 8:30 p.m. Television Jamaica (TVJ) will have a live broadcast, starting at 9:30 p.m.
Sixteen boxers drawn from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States and Suriname and split into two teams, Green comprising boxers from Jamaica led by head coach Carl Grant, and Yellow with boxers from overseas led by head coach Andrew Boland, will engage in the preliminary knockout round.
Win and you continue, lose and you go home is the theme of the competition, which has Wray & Nephew as the lead sponsor, with Schweppes and TVJ associate sponsors.
At the end of the preliminary round, the eight boxers left standing will engage in second-round action, also over six rounds, and the four survivors then will battle over eight rounds in the semi-finals. The grand final will be over 10 rounds.
The top prize is purse money of $2 million. The boxer who places second will take home $500,000, third place $250,000 and fourth $200,000.
The format of the show is that the two teams engage in Challenges over a period of time and the team that wins the Challenge selects the boxer who will fight each week, as well as his opponent.
For the first week, the Green team came out on top and Jamaican Tsetsi Davis selected Jermin King from Guyana as his opponent. King however, at the weigh-in that was done seven days before fight night for safety reasons, was well over the limit and had to drop out.
In the next Challenge, the Green team won again and selected Russell to be their first man up. Russell then surprisingly selected Placide, who is very experienced and is regarded as one of the better boxers on the Yellow team.
Placide, in fact, predicted at the start that he was "going to take it all, as no one here can beat me". He gets the opportunity tonight to show that he meant what he said.
Placide is 40 years old and has a record of 13 wins - eight of which ended inside the distance - six losses, four by knockout and one draw. His last fight was in July 2012 and he defeated Floyd Trumpett by technical knockout in six rounds. He is reported to be "a good boxer with a punch" and said that he was very confident going into tonight's fight.
Russell, who was an outstanding amateur, moved up to the professional ranks in 2013 and had his first fight on July 17 that year. That night he defeated Jermaine Bowen by a TKO in four rounds. He has had two more fights since then in Guyana and won them both, for a 3-0 record.
"I could have selected an easier opponent, but I like my chances against Placide," Russell told The Gleaner when asked about his choice of opponent for his debut fight in the 'Contender' series.
"He is experienced, but I think that I have the speed, punching power and fitness to come out victorious, and I am confident that I am going to win."