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Veteran Contenders swear they’ll win Wray & Nephex boxing series

Published:Tuesday | June 9, 2015 | 12:00 AMLeroy Brown

The Wray and Nephew Contender competition will move into the highly anticipated semi-final stages on Wednesday, June 17, at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium, with crowd favourite Tsetsi Davis making an effort to get into his second straight final at the expense of Richard Holmes.

The other semi-finalists are Devon Moncriffe, the 2013 winner of the competition, and newcomer Kemahl Russell, who will fight the following week.

These boxers were the ones seeded by the organisers. Moncriffe, 38, is seeded No. 1; Davis, 37, is at No. 2; Holmes, 27, is No. 3; and Russell, 26, is No. 4. Their performances have justified their seeding, but it now remains to be seen whether it will hold up for the next round.

Davis and Russell were the most impressive in the preliminaries and quarter-finals, but Moncriffe is known to be a fierce competitor, and Holmes, who is reaching the semi-finals for the second time, has declared that "nothing can stop me from making the finals this year".

One important difference moving into the semis is that competition will be over eight rounds instead of the usual six in the preliminary rounds. The final will see another two rounds added to take it to 10.

The longer distance will definitely give an edge to Davis, Moncriffe, and Holmes, who have been there before. For Russell, who has had only five fights - all of which he has won - it will be a learning experience.

A review of the performances shows that Russell defeated Kevin Placide by knockout in three rounds and Kevin Hylton, by way of a fifth-round TKO. Holmes won on points over Charwin Estwick and by TKO over Derick Richmond. Davis defeated Christopher 'Skaka' Henry by TKO and then Ricardo Planter on points, while Moncriffe won on points over Courtney Pennington and Jermaine Bowen.

Davis looked sharp in his two bouts and has tried to allay the fears of his many supporters who are concerned about his stamina by assuring them that this will not be a factor this year. He has the tendency to fade as his fights progress, but he told The Gleaner that he has been "doing a lot of road work and boxing a lot of rounds in the gym", so he should not, therefore, "have any problems going eight rounds if the fight lasts that long".

He is oozing confidence and said also that "no one or nothing can stop me from taking the title this year".

Russell admits that he is inexperienced but added that he is "a very fast learner and has absorbed a lot of information recently. People are going to be shocked at what I am going to produce in the next fight", he added.

Moncriffe, who has been to the top before, says that he intends to stay there.

"They are saying that I am too old, but I am going to give everyone a surprise by winning the title again. I am ready and can hardly wait to get into the ring," he said.