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CONTENDER SERIES RETURNS WEDNESDAY

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2016 | 3:00 AMLeroy Brown

Wray and Nephew's popular, made for television Contender boxing series, will premier next Wednesday March 9, with a contest between Jamaica's Richard Holmes and Xzaviar Ford from North Carolina, at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium, Hope Road. The fight will be broadcast live on Television Jamaica (TVJ).

The series, which is in its sixth year, will see a team of eight welterweight boxers from the Caribbean going up against a team from the USA, most of whom are from North Carolina. At an official launch on Thursday, the boxers named from the Caribbean are Jamaicans Tsetsi Davis, Richard Holmes, Ramel Lewis, Michael Gardener and Camion Goldson, along with Iwan Azore from Trinidad and Tobago, Miguel Antoine from Barbados and Revlon Lake from Guyana.

The boxers from the USA in addition to Ford are, William Barber, Courtney McCleave, Kevin Reynolds, Jose Guzman, Anthony Woods, Rashid Stevens and Devonte Seay. The matchmaker from North Caronia Chris Joy was present at the launch.

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Both teams have a mixture of experienced boxers and newcomers to the professional ranks. The new pros could face some major challenges in the later stages of the competition however. Jamaicans Gardener and Goldson for example are making their professional debuts, and if they are able to make it past the preliminary round, they will face more experienced boxers in the quarter finals.

Several of the boxers from the USA do not have many professional fights on their records, but Joy told the Gleaner that he was confident that they would be able to hold their own against the Caribbean boxers, because of their previous amateur experience and the type of fights they have had so far as professionals.

Ford, for example, who is 19, and goes up against Holmes in the opener, has a one win and three losses record. Joy is of the opinion however, that his boxer is young and talented, and had a good run as an amateur. These factors, he said, in addition to his speed, will be the attributes that Ford will bring to the contest, and will enable him to get the better of the more experience Holmes.

There has been a change in the number of rounds in the early stages of competition. Instead of six rounds, the prelims and quarter finals will be over five rounds and the semi-finals over seven. This is designed to avoid as far as possible, a drawn fight. The final will however remain at 10 rounds.

The winner of the series will take home $2-million, the runner up $500,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000.