Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
Declaring that their boxers are ready and fighting fit, the two team leaders for the popular Wray & Nephew Contender 2013 boxing series, Carl Grant and Andrew Boland, have expressed confidence that the winner this year will come from their team.
Boland, who was in the corner of the 2011 champion Rikardo Smith, is sure that he will be the winner again, but Grant is just as confident, so all is set for a dramatic start on Wednesday, at the Chinese Benevolent Society auditorium, Old Hope Road.
Sixteen boxers, divided into two teams of eight, have been selected by the promoters, MJK Productions, from an entry of 25, and as in the inaugural series in 2011, competition will again be in the middleweight division. Boland and his assistant Martin Anderson will lead a strong team, the Yellow Team, comprising Tsetsi Davis, Devon Moncriffe, Glenroy (Bumpy) Beckford, Kevin Hylton, Lloyd Smith, Dean Palmer, Jermaine Bowen and Lensworth McNaughton.
Grant's team, the Green team, will have Canada-based Richard Reittie as their standard-bearer, and he will also have in his line-up Ramel 'Sub Zero' Lewis, who was the runner-up last year, Derrick Spencer, Richard Holmes, Marvin McKay, Allan Cann, Miguel Ray and Everton Eccleston, with Joseph Harrison as assistant team leader. Both teams are a good blend of youth and experience.
Reittie, who is 25 years old, left Jamaica when he was 10 and now lives in Toronto, Canada. He still has a brother living in Jamaica and told The Gleaner that he is very happy that he is able to participate this year. Being able to also spend time with his sibling made it even sweeter, he said. He made enquiries last year, but was not able to enter because the contest was for welterweights.
"I am fit and ready and anxious to get into the ring, and although there can be an upset, I am confident that I will be able to make it to the finals and take home the one million dollar first prize," he declared. Ramel Lewis and Richard Holmes are the other favoured boxers on the Green team.
Moncriffe, who was runner-up to Smith in 2011, is the top seed on the Yellow team. This team has some colourful boxers, among them the evergreen crowd pleaser, 'Bumpy' Beckford, the aggressive Tsetsi Davis and newcomer to the professional ranks, Jermaine Bowen. Boland was confident that one of his stars will enable his team to win the top prize once more.
There will be a challenge between the two teams each week that will provide entertainment for the television audience watching on TVJ each Wednesday night at 9:30. The winning team each week will have the opportunity to select which of its boxers will fight that week, and also choose his opponent.
In addition to the million dollar first prize, there will be $500,000 for second, $250,000 for third and $200,000 for fourth. The series has been approved by the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control, Wray & Nephew are the name sponsors, and the associate sponsors are Foska Oats and TVJ.