An unforgettable night of boxing

Saturday, July 28, 2018

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Surely, in the eight seasons of the Wray & Nephew Contender boxing series, there can't have been a more exhilarating fight than was witnessed in the final on Wednesday night.

Blessed with a sound defensive technique, eventual winner Mr Ricardo “Magic Man” Salas, the 19-year-old Mexican Canadian, also thrives on all-out attack against all opponents, typically pressing forward, throwing rapid-fire jabs, hooks and upper cuts with either hand.

He did so again on Wednesday night, executing very well, and deservedly won the welterweight fight with the unanimous support of the judges.

And yet for all of that, to the great delight of boxing supporters watching live and on television, the Jamaican flag bearer Mr Richard “Frog” Holmes fought the fight of his life. Never giving up, Mr Holmes battled back from extreme adversity on every occasion — repeatedly forcing his dominant opponent to back up and think about survival. Twice Mr Holmes was knocked down, but each time he returned to his feet to give as good as he got.

Skill is always important, but no sport demands courage, resilience and determination more than boxing. On Wednesday night Mr Holmes demonstrated those qualities to the optimum. He lost, but to those who watched he was also a winner.

In truth this fight was great advertisement for the sport of boxing which, over the years, has at times seemed under serious threat locally.

As we have done regularly since the launch of the Contender series, this newspaper applauds the organisers and sponsors for their initiative, drive and investment. There has been the odd wrong note on occasions, but for the most part the Wray & Nephew Contender has been well run and pleasing to watch.

We are particularly happy with the uptick in the quality of overseas boxers in recent years. In 2016, Jamaicans saw the superbly technical Mr Demarcus “Chop Chop” Corley of the United States who went on to win the title.

This year we are inclined to believe that in the youthful Mr Salas, Jamaicans have witnessed someone who may very well become a global champion at the welterweight level. He surely has the mark of a long line of great Mexican pugilists.

And while it wasn't part of the script, Jamaicans were fascinated by the off-the-cuff challenge to Mr Salas by two-time Wray & Nephew Contender champion Mr Sakimo Mullings. A highly skilled technician in his own right, Mr Mullings was so taken with the moment, he climbed into the ring to interrupt the television broadcast and offer his informal challenge.

Most of those watching probably laughed, but knowledgeable boxing fans will have immediately thought of the mouth-watering possibilities of such a clash. We surely hope that there is someone of the ilk of the late, legendary boxing promoter Mr Lucien Chen out there waiting, itching to try to make it happen.

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