Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
It was a case of history repeating itself on Wednesday night, as Richard Holmes from the Green team scored a dramatic second-round technical knockout (TKO) victory over Lloyd Smith from the Yellow team, as the Wray & Nephew Contender series got off to a dramatic start at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium.
This was a repeat of what happened on the opening night last year, when Holmes, who was making his professional debut at that time, also scored a second-round TKO victory over Courtney Simister. He went on to make it to the semi-finals then, but has stated that his goal this year is to make the final.
The made-for-television series, which is sponsored by Wray & Nephew, Foska Oats and TVJ, and is approved by the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control, was broadcast live by TVJ before a large enthusiastic audience, which braved heavy rain to make it to the venue.
Smith came into Wednesday's fight because Dean Palmer, the opponent originally selected by Holmes after his team won the challenge, backed out of the competition last Friday. Smith was therefore the second choice made by Holmes. There is a challenge each week, when the two teams compete in non-boxing activities. The team that wins the challenge gets to select the boxer who will participate each week, as well as his opponent, so winning the challenge is important.
Smith looked sharp in the first round and his jabs and overhand rights made his supporters optimistic that he would give a good account of himself. Holmes looked menacing, however, and his jabs at long range and a few well-placed uppercuts when he engaged his opponent at close quarters served notice that he was in great condition and ready to fight. Smith had the edge in the first round.
In the second round, Holmes stepped up the pressure, and threw some heavy punches to the body and head. He shook Smith a couple of times, and knocked his head back with short uppercuts. Smith continued to engage him, however, and things were looking up even when Holmes caught Smith with a right to the face that made him back away. Holmes pounced quickly and landed a few punches to the head, and with Smith covering up in a neutral corner with his back turned to his opponent, referee Barry Graham stepped in and called a halt.
After the stoppage, it could be seen that Smith had suffered a cut just above his left eye. He stated that once he was hit in the eye, his vision blurred, and that was why he had backed away from his opponent. The victory was recorded as by TKO at 2 minutes 30 seconds of round two. Smith is now out of the competition, while Holmes moves on to the quarter-finals and a chance to win one of the large cash prizes. First prize is one million dollars, second prize $500,000, third prize $250, 000 and fourth $200,000.
There were also two entertaining amateur bouts on the card. In the first bout, a middleweight contest, Omar Campbell, a very promising young boxer from Bruising Gym, outpunched Geoffrey Miller from Stanley Couch to take a unanimous decision. In the second bout, Nickoy Jackson from Boys' Town scored a hard-fought victory over Julian Jackson in a welterweight bout. This was a very close contest, but Jackson had a good third round and this enabled him to get the verdict from two of the three judges.