Moncriffe, Russell showdown
If confidence was the key factor, there would be two winners tonight when the first of two semi-finals in the Wray & Nephew Middleweight Contender 2015 takes place at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium on Old Hope Road, between Devon Moncriffe and Kemahl Russell over eight rounds. The bout starts at 9:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on TVJ. Two amateur bouts will precede the main bout.
Both men were supremely confident yesterday while speaking with The Gleaner, and although they acknowledged each other's capabilities, they had no doubt in their minds as to who would come out victorious.
Moncriffe, who won the title in 2013 with a split-decision verdict over Tsetsi Davis, goes into battle with a 12-4 record and a belief that he will be crowned champion a second time.
"It will be victory all the way, no doubt about it. I am ready, and the fans will have a good time watching me perform," he stated.
He is known to be an aggressive fighter whose signature punch is an overhand right to the head, and it is expected that he will be going after his opponent very early. He has already scored two victories in the competition to get to this stage. In the preliminary round, he defeated American Courtney Pennington and then in the quarter-finals, the young challenger Jermaine Bowen.
He was not dominant in either fight, but used a methodical approach and good punching power to come out victorious on both occasions. He said yesterday that his training had gone well, that he was "feeling good", and that it would be "victory all the way. I am ready, and it will be another final for me after tonight," he predicted.
Russell, who is one of the newcomers to the 'Contender' competition, has won his fights in impressive fashion, and much is expected of him tonight. He has been a professional since July 2013 and has a 5-0 record. He stopped both his opponents in the earlier rounds of the competition. First, he knocked out Kevin Placide in three rounds, and then put so much pressure on Kevin Hylton in the quarter finals, that he did not answer the bell for the fifth round.
He had an incident two weeks ago when he was attacked by dogs while doing his early morning run, but he told The Gleaner yesterday that the incident was not serious and that he is not suffering any ill effects. His training has gone well, he said, and he is prepared to go eight rounds if necessary.
"I am feeling good and I am confident of victory" he added.
This promises to be a good tactical fight, and it will be interesting to see how the 26-year-old Russell, who brings exceptional boxing skills to the ring, will cope with the guile and punching power of the seasoned 38-year-old veteran Moncriffe.