There were boos and cheers at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium on Wednesday night, as Tsetsi Davis, one of the favourites to win the 2017 version of the Wray and Nephew Contender title, was only able to gain a split-decision victory over underdog Canadian David Leblond.
Judges Keith Brown 49-46 and Clifford Brown 48-47, voted for Davis, while the other judge, Canadian Benoit Roussel, voted 48-47 for Leblond.
Davis has had a rocky passage in the series since its inception and has been to the finals twice and lost. He has declared 2017 to be his year, but it too has a rocky start. His troubles started at the weigh-in on Tuesday afternoon, when he failed to make the weight limit of 154 pounds, even after being allowed two hours to do so. The extra 2 1/2 pounds cost him his purse money for the fight. Contractually, it was agreed that failure to make the weight meant a US$500 payment to the opponent, and Leblond insisted on this clause being adhered to.
Davis was stoic before the fight.
"It was my fault and I had to pay. This is even more incentive now for me to win the $2-million first prize," he said.
Leblond was very confident before the fight and from the first bell he took the fight to Davis, who boasted a 16-5 record, and it was non-stop action until the final bell.
The announcement of the decision brought cheers from the Davis camp and boos from spectators who supported the underdog. It was indeed a close fight and actually came down to the scores in round three.
Judge Keith Brown, with a 49-46 scorecard, was off the mark, but judges Clifford Brown and Roussel had identical scores in rounds 1, 2, 4 and 5. In round three, Brown voted for Davis, while Roussel voted for Leblond, and that made the difference in the outcome of the fight, as Davis won 2-1.
Both men told The Gleaner that they believed that they had won, and Leblond, who only speaks French, said through his trainer Patrice Trudeau that although he was disappointed, he will move on. Trudeau said he was pleased with how Leblond had performed.
"Now you see why he cannot get fights in Canada. However, he has a fight in June, and tonight will do him a world of good. I would like him to fight Davis again, though. It would be another great match."