Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Fight Night presents opportunity for struggling boxers

Published:Saturday | October 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Miguel ‘Iron Dog’ Ray (left) faces off with opponent Kestna Davis ahead of today’s professional showdown at the Wray & Nephew Fight Night.

Popular growling boxing character Miguel 'Iron Dog' Ray is set to take on youngster Kestna Davis in the first of two professional bouts in the Wray & Nephew Fight Night series tonight at Alpart Sports Club in St Elizabeth.

Known for his 'dog like' character, Miguel Ray's story is one of great determination against the odds. Ray's fighting spirit was nurtured during his childhood. He experienced a rough and fatherless upbringing in the streets, where he constantly had to defend himself in the tough environment.

In 2002, Ray discovered boxing. He trained with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) for several years until he met up with boxing coach Carl Grant in his Stony Hill Gym. In 2013, he turned professional and entered the Wray & Nephew Contender competition. He began training one year ahead of the competition. However, spine surgery almost brought his preparations to a halt. Undeterred, Ray continued to work hard, and this carried him through to the event.

It has been challenging to maintain the lifestyle that professional boxing requires, says Ray. Travelling to Kingston from St Mary every day to train is not possible for him, due to the costs; he supports his boxing expenses by driving a taxi. Ray does everything with his much-loved son in mind. There is great pride in his voice when he says, "I am still my son's hero."

Currently, Ray's professional record stands at a respectable three wins and three losses. He will be gunning for a fourth win in the bout against the younger Kestna Davis, whom he knows well personally and in the boxing ring. Ray acknowledges that Davis' style differs greatly from his own - Ray is thicker set and packs more power in his punches - while Davis is quicker both on his feet and with his hands. Ray appears confident in his experience, however, proclaiming: "I know the game of boxing now. I know the tricks!" This, he believes, will carry him, victoriously, through the bout, underlining that he is not prepared to serve merely as a "stepping stone" for Davis.

 

22-YEAR-OLD KESTNA DAVIS

 

In the opposite corner, we find 22-year-old Kestna Davis - younger, less experienced professionally, but with a slightly more favourable record of two wins and no losses. His amateur record of 78 wins and only seven losses is even more impressive.

Although he has a very different boxing style to Ray, the two do share similar backgrounds and origins in the sport. Davis also joined Carl Grant's Gym, but at the younger age of 14. After just two years, he declared that it was "his time" to turn professional.

Like Ray, Davis says that to make it as a boxer in Jamaica has been a struggle. He also comes from a background where resources were scarce but credits coach Grant with much of his success. Grant has provided him with virtually everything he needed to train at the right level for a professional athlete, Ray points out.

Kestna Davis has trained with his opponent, knows him personally and has studied his technique. He knows they have differing styles and energy levels but he is confident that, above all, his speed and endurance will earn him victory on the night.

On Ray's style, Davis observes: "I can see everything coming from his shoulders. He will not catch me. He will get punches the whole time. I am always ready!"

This matchup is the first of two professional bouts billed for Saturday night's event at Alpart Sports Club. Five amateur matches, in which Jamaican fighters will take on Guyanese opponents, will also take place, followed by an after-party with Wray Rum specials. The next Wray & Nephew Fight Night is set for St Thomas on Saturday, November 18.