Showdown for the crown - Holmes, Salas clash in Contender final
"This is the third time that I will be fighting for the Contender title, and I am going to take it this year," declared Jamaica's Richard 'Frog' Holmes yesterday, as he commented on his chances tonight, in the 10-round final of the 2018 Wray and Nephew Welterweight Contender competition, against Ricardo 'Magic Man' Salas of Canada, which takes place at the National Indoor Sports Centre, at Independence Park.
The action begins at 8:30 with two amateur bouts, and the three-fight professional card, which will be broadcast by TVJ, will commence at 9:30.
The two other professional bouts will see Jamaica's Sakima Mullings 25-3 (25 wins 3 defeats) going against Alejandro Herrera from Mexico 18-8-2 (wins, defeats, draws), and two Jamaicans, Ricardo Planter 6-9-2 and Nico Yeyo 2-2, who are both Contender graduates, exchanging punches over six rounds each.
Salas and Holmes reached the finals of the competition in contrasting ways. Holmes, who has an 19-8 record, scored close points decisions over Lloyd Reyes, Larone Whyte and David Leblond, while Salas 10-1, had technical knockout victories over Sceantonie Johnson and Nico Yeyo and a dramatic first-round knockout victory over former Contender champion Devon Moncriffe.
Holmes, who is 31 years old, has good boxing skills and moderate punching power, while Salas, who is 19 and had an excellent amateur career in Mexico where he was born and fought over 100 times before turning professional in October 2016, prides himself on being a devastating puncher. Nine of his 10 victories have been by either technical knockout or knockout, while Holmes has won eight of his 18 fights inside the distance.
Because of the quality of his victories, the buzz in Contender circles has been that Salas will be the favourite to take the title and the $2-million first prize, but Holmes, who has taken home the $500,000 runner-up prize twice in 2015 and 2016, says that he is not fazed by this.
"I know that he is regarded as the favourite, but that does not bother me," he said. Continuing he added, "I have watched his previous fights, so I know what to expect, and I am not going to make the mistakes that the other Jamaicans made. I am going to fight a smart fight, and you just have to wait and see what happens."
Confident of victory
Salas, who does not speak English, said, through an interpreter, after his recent knockout victory, that he was very confident of victory right from the start of the competition.
"I am well prepared, I respect my opponents, but my job is to break them down and knock them out. That is what I plan to do, to take the title back to Canada with me."
A lot will depend on how Holmes will respond to the pressure that will undoubtedly come from his opponent. Salas has shown that apart from his punching power, he can assess his opponent very quickly, and develop a strategy to take them out. He likes to go after his opponents early and there is no doubt that he will do this tonight.
It will be up to Holmes to see if he can seize the initiative early and send Salas a message. How Salas responds if this is done will be instructive. It is an interesting match-up, and indications are that there will be plenty of early action. If Salas wins, Moncriffe will take home the third prize of $250,000, while if Holmes wins, it will go to Leblond. The fourth-prize purse money is $200,000.
The Mullings versus Herrera, bout which will be a junior middleweight contest, should be action-packed. Being over only six rounds, the boxers can start fast, and word is that Herrera likes to work from close and throw punches to the body and head. Mullings is of like mind, so it promises to be fast-paced and furious.
Yeyo and Planter are evenly matched, and this should be a close battle.