Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
Sixteen middleweight boxers will start the quest for the Wray & Nephew Middleweight Contender 2013 title and the first prize of one million dollars tonight at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium on Old Hope Road.
The show, which will be broadcast live on Television Jamaica starting at 9:30, is promoted by MJK Productions.
There are three other attractive money prizes. The runner-up will take home $500,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000. The boxers are divided into two teams, Green and Yellow, and for the first eight weeks the matches will be made based on the outcome of 'challenges' that test the non-boxing skills of the competitors. These are held a week before fight night. The team that wins the challenge gets the chance to decide which boxer will fight that week, and also who will be his opponent. Winning a challenge is therefore very important to the team.
This will be the third year of competition. In 2011, which also saw competition in the middleweight division, Rikardo Smith from the Hard Knocks Gym in Savanna-la-Mar defeated Devon Moncriffe for the title and last year, Donovan 'Police' Campbell from the Stanley Couch Gym defeated Ramel Lewis from Hard Knocks Gym, to take home the Welterweight Contender 2012 title.
Both losing finalists are among the entrants this year. Moncriffe is one of the pre-fight favourites, while Lewis, who has put on weight to make it to the middleweight division, also has an ardent group of supporters who believe that he will do just as well in the new weight class. Two boxers who were born in Jamaica but have spent most of the lives overseas have entered this year. They are Richard Reittie from Canada and Alan Cann from the USA. Reittie, who still lives in Toronto, Canada, is also one of the pre-fight favourites, while Cann, who returned to live in Jamaica recently, is one of the dark horses in the competition.
The two boxers who will climb into the ring tonight are Richard Holmes, representing the Green team, and Lloyd Smith from the Yellow team. These two boxers have participated before, Smith in the 2011 competition and Holmes last year. Holmes is a promising fighter who made it to the quarter-finals last year. He told The Gleaner that he is much more comfortable as a middleweight and that last year he had difficulty fighting as a welterweight. He believes that he now has much more punching power, and with the experience that he gained last year, he sees himself as a serious challenger for the title. "I expect to be in the finals," he said.
Smith is a veteran who is yet to show his best, and he will have to give a much improved performance to those in 2011 and 2012 to make it past the first round of competition.