Moncriffe, Pennington in big Contender showdown
What promises to be one of the best fights in the preliminary round of the Wray and Nephew Middleweight Contender Series takes place at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium tonight, when two of the most talented boxers in the competition, Devon 'Concrete' Moncriffe, a former winner of the title, takes on Courtney Pennington, from Brooklyn, United States, over six rounds.
The main bout is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on TVJ. There will also be two amateur bouts, starting at 8:30 p.m.
Pennington, who is 28 and has a 7-2-1 record, shocked everyone in the Challenge stage of the competition when, after his Yellow Team won, he selected Moncriffe, who is 37 and one of the most feared contestants in the competition.
His reason, he said then, was that he intends to win the competition, so who better to take out early than the most dangerous opponent.
WAS IT THE RIGHT CALL?
One may question his logic, but that was his decision, and tonight boxing fans will see whether he made the right call.
His manager, Bryan Blake, said Pennington, who grew up in New York with his Jamaican mother, is prepared to defeat Moncriffe.
"He is looking forward to the match. He has been training and believes that he will be victorious. Pennington intends to make Team Yellow proud," Blake stated.
He is a boxer who likes to take the fight to his opponent, and four of his seven victories have been inside the distance. It is interesting to note, too, that he lost both his 2014 fights by decision.
Moncriffe, who has a 10-4 record, has won four of his fights by knockout, but has been stopped twice in his four losses. He, too, lost his last two fights, both of which were overseas.
He was outpointed last June by Angel Martinez in Florida, and last month he lost to Wilky Campfort, again in Florida, when he did not answer the bell for Round Five of a six-round contest.
'MAKE A STATEMENT'
He is a crowd-pleaser because of his aggression and has stated that although he does not go into a fight with a knockout in mind, whenever the opportunity presents itself, he takes it.
"He said he is coming to make a statement, so I want to see the statement he is coming to make. I am prepared to defeat him. Him never fight nobody like me before, it seems, or else he would not have said he will make a statement. I am ready and physically prepared for him," the Jamaican declared.
He has had some memorable encounters in the Jamaica ring, among them his victory over Tsetsi Davis in 2011 and then his split-decision loss to Sakima Mullings in March 2012.
After a brief rest following his last defeat, Moncriffe kept his fitness level up, primarily with running, doing bag work, shadow-boxing and skipping. He resumed sparring recently and has declared himself to be "in great condition and coming to win".
Next week, the quarter-finals will start; the draw for opponents will take place tonight. Four boxers will be seeded and they will then draw their opponents and the week in which they will fight in the next round of competition.
The boxers are vying for the Contender title and belt and a first prize of $2 million. The runner-up wins $500,000, third $250,000 and fourth $200,000. The main sponsors are Wray & Nephew, with TVJ and Schweppes as associate sponsors.