Holmes reaches Contender final
"One more river to cross," said Richard 'Frog' Holmes after he defeated Canada's David Leblond by unanimous decision at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium to reach the final of the Wray and Nephew Contender series for the third time.
Quoting from the song made popular by Jamaica's Jimmy Cliff, Holmes, with a broad smile on his face, said further that he was "relieved and happy" and is now looking forward to the final of the competition on July 25 at the National Indoor Arena. He lost in the final in 2015 and 2016 but said that he hopes that the third time will be a successful bid for him.
Holmes, who looked much fitter than he did in his two previous fights in this year's competition, went through some frustrations as his opponent held on to him a lot, thereby stifling his flow of punches, but managed to keep his composure because of the advice from his coach, Carl Grant, who, he said, urged him repeatedly to "keep cool and stick to the game plan".
He expressed surprise that it was a split decision because he felt that he clearly won at least four of the seven rounds. One Jamaican judge, Laurence Neufville, had him ahead 69-63, as did Canadian judge David Dunbar, who scored it 67-66. Jamaican judge Lindell Allen, however, voted 67-66 for Leblond.
The fight was exciting, and there was a lot of early action as 'Fast and Furious' Leblond lived up to his name. He attacked vigorously, but Holmes used his jabs to keep him at bay while at the same time scoring valuable early points. Leblond kept boring in and throwing punches with both hands from close range, so Holmes had to devise a counter-attack strategy, which saw him using short hooks to the body and the occasional uppercut to good advantage. Both boxers kept referee Eion Jardine busy, but he kept control of the fight throughout the seven rounds.
MOST EXCITING ROUND
The third round was the most exciting of the night, and Holmes definitely seemed as if he wanted to end the fight in that round. He swarmed all over Leblond and threw jabs to the head, double hooks to the body and head, and a few uppercuts that hurt Leblond. As the large crowd shouted "Frog, Frog, Frog", he became inspired, and under the furious attack, Leblond's knees buckled. He had to hold on to Holmes so as not to go down and was able to weather the storm with smart defensive work. This was definitely a two-point round for Holmes despite the fact that there was no knockdown.
Holmes took a breather in the fourth round, which Leblond won, but went back to work in the fifth and sixth with jabs, hooks and uppercuts to solidify his lead.
He was on cruise control in the final round and did just enough to keep himself in the picture. Leblond kept the action going to the end, however, and had no complaints about the decision.
Next week, Devon 'Concrete' Moncriffe, representing Team Jamaica, will go up against Team Canada's Ricardo Salas for the other place in the final.