Winning start for impressive Mullings
Sakima Mullings started his bid to become a two-time Wray and Nephew Contender title holder on Wednesday when he fought off a brilliant challenge from Canadian William Matthews to take a unanimous decision and book an early place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
In five-rounds of non-stop action at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium on Old Hope Road in St. Andrew, both boxers had the large crowd cheering wildly throughout the night and only the Matthews camp seemed to disagree with the unanimous decision of the judges. Judge Lindell Allen had it 48-47, while the other two judges, Jamaica's Keith Brown and Canada's Martin Dalida, had a 49-46 scoreline.
It was a very close encounter and every round was keenly contested. Matthews, who came into the fight with a record of one win and two draws, showed that sometimes records do not matter. He said, before the fight, "My record does not reflect my capabilities. I am here to fight and I will."
True to word
He kept his word. A south-paw with fast hands and good lateral movement, he used jabs to find his range and then attacked the body. Mullings was tentative in the early stages of the round and did not come to life until the final minute, but this gave him the edge and the votes of all three judges. Matthews won the second round with a good mix of power punching and defence, while Mullings took the third with superb body punching. Matthews satisfied one judge that he won the fourth round, which, again, was good for him, and the 48-47 score at the end accurately portrayed the closeness of the fight.
For Mullings, this was the first step in his stated mission - "to bring the Contender title back to Jamaica" - this because it was won by an American last year. He gave Matthews credit, but felt that he "was the better man" on Wednesday.
Matthews was dejected and both he and his camp believed that he had won.
"It was close, but William won," said coach Jackie Armour. "He was up against a man with 22 fights. He fought brilliantly, and I hope that he can get a return some time in the future."
The winner of the competition will take home the Contender title and $2 million, second prize is $500,000, third prize $250,000 and fourth prize $200,000.